„Every attempt to develop systematic democratic theory has to confront the elementary fact that democracy can be, and in practice has been, interpreted as an ideal political system, perhaps (or probably, or certainly) unattainable in full, and also as an actual, historically existing system, a set of political institutions or processes that are attainable at least under some limiting conditions.“

—  Robert Alan Dahl, A Preface to Democratic Theory (Expanded ed., 2006), Foreword : Reflections on A Preface to Democratic Theory
Robert Alan Dahl photo
Robert Alan Dahl
1915 - 2014

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„The more there is a need to talk about the ideals of democracy, the less democratic the system usually is.“

—  Noam Chomsky american linguist, philosopher and activist 1928
Quotes 1990s, 1995-1999, Context: Because they don't teach the truth about the world, schools have to rely on beating students over the head with propaganda about democracy. If schools were, in reality, democratic, there would be no need to bombard students with platitudes about democracy. They would simply act and behave democratically, and we know this does not happen. The more there is a need to talk about the ideals of democracy, the less democratic the system usually is. Chomsky on Miseducation, 1999 http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~rgibson/rouge_forum/newspaper/fall2001/Chomsky.htm.

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„Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure that they are right.“

—  Elmer Eric Schattschneider American political scientist 1892 - 1971
Two Hundred Million Americans in Search of a Government (1969), Context: Democracy has no place for the kind of justice implied in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Democracy is a system for the resolution of conflict, not for vengeance. Simple black-white notions of right and wrong do not fit into democratic politics. Political controversies result from the fact that the issues are complex, and men may properly have differences of opinion about them. The most terrible of all over-simplifications is the notion that politics is a contest between good people and bad people. Democracy is based on a profound insight into human nature, the realization that all men are sinful, all are imperfect, all are prejudiced, and none knows the whole truth. That is why we need liberty and why we have an obligation to hear all men. Liberty gives us a chance to learn from other people, to become aware of our own limitations, and to correct our bias. Even when we disagree with other people we like to think that they speak from good motives, and while we realize that all men are limited, we do not let ourselves imagine that any man is bad. Democracy is a political system for people who are not sure that they are right. p. 53

Vladimir Lenin photo

„In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favorable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slaveowners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy,” “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life. The“

—  Vladimir Lenin, State and Revolution
The State and Revolution (1917), Context: Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich – that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of capitalist democracy, we see everywhere, in the "petty" – supposedly petty – details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, exclusion of women, etc.), in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for "paupers"!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc., – we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want himself and has never been in close contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine out of 10, if not 99 out of 100, bourgeois publicists and politicians come under this category); but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, from active participation in democracy. Ch. 5

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

„Democracy is essentially a political system that recognizes the equality of humans before the law.“

—  Dwight D. Eisenhower American general and politician, 34th president of the United States (in office from 1953 to 1961) 1890 - 1969
1940s, Address to Constituent Assembly, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/education/bsa/citizenship_merit_badge/eisenhower_citizenship_quotations.pdf (8 August 1946)

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„America is a country ready to be taken—in fact, longing to be taken—by political leaders ready to restore democracy and trust to the political process.“

—  Arianna Huffington Greek-American author and syndicated columnist 1950
[How to Overthrow the Government, 1st edition, 2000, HarperCollins, New York, ISBN 0-06-039331-9, p. 174 of 317, The Quest for Leaders]

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