'Democracy,' in the United States rhetoric refers to a system of governance in which elite elements based in the business community control the state by virtue of their dominance of the private society, while the population observes quietly. So understood, democracy is a system of elite decision and public ratification, as in the United States itself. Correspondingly, popular involvement in the formation of public policy is considered a serious threat. It is not a step towards democracy; rather it constitutes a 'crisis of democracy' that must be overcome.
Noam Chomsky, noted American dissident and professor at MIT in On Power and Ideology (1987)
Thus corporations finally claimed the full rights enjoyed by individual citizens while being exempted from many of the responsibilities and liabilities of citizenship. Furthermore, in being guaranteed the same right to free speech as individual citizens, they achieved, in the words of Paul Hawken, 'precisely what the Bill of Rights was intended to prevent: domination of public thought and discourse.' The subsequent claim by corporations that they have the same right as any individual to influence the government in their own interest pits the individual citizen against the vast financial and communications resources of the corporation and mocks the constitutional intent that all citizens have an equal voice in the political debates surrounding important issues.
David C. Korten, in When Corporations Rule the World
The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson."
Franklin D. Roosevelt in a letter to Woodrow Wilson's closest adviser, Col. Edward M. House dated November 21, 1933
Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate.... After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community....The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided.... It does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Alexis De Tocqueville in Democracy in America (1840)
The bewildered herd are a problem. We've got to prevent their rage and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Super bowl or sitcoms or violent movies or something. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like 'Support Our Troops', and you've got to keep them pretty scared because unless they're scared properly and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous because they're not competent to think, and therefore it's important to distract and to marginalize them.
From a lecture by Noam Chomsky, on the power elite's conception of democracy in America
The most popular man under a democracy is not the most democratic man, but the most despotic man. The common folk delight in the exactions of such a man. They like him to boss them. Their natural gait is the goose step.
It had been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience had proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.
Alexander Hamilton, June 21, 1788
If you establish a democracy, you must in due time reap the fruits of a democracy. You will in due season have great impatience of public burdens, combined in due season with great increase of public expenditure. You will in due season have wars entered into from passion and not from reason; and you will in due season submit to peace ignominiously sought and ignominiously obtained, which will diminish your authority and perhaps endanger your independence. You will in due season find your property is less valuable, and your freedom less complete.
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli -1850
The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.
The adoption of Democracy as a form of Government by all European nations is fatal to good Government, to liberty, to law and order, to respect for authority, and to religion, and must eventually produce a state of chaos from which a new world tyranny will arise.
Duke of Northumberland 1931
De Tocqueville once warned us that: "If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event will arise from the unlimited tyranny of the majority." But a majority will never be permitted to exercise such "unlimited tyranny" so long as we cling to the American ideals of republican liberty and turn a deaf ear to the siren voices now calling us to democracy. This is not a question relating to the form of government. That can always be changed by constitutional amendment. It is one affecting the underlying philosophy of our system -- a philosophy which brought new dignity to the individual, more safety for minorities and greater justice in the administration of government. We are in grave danger of dissipating this splendid heritage through mistaking it for democracy.
Archibald E. Stevenson
Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.
John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both.
Thomas Babington Macaulay
...democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.
James Madison in Essay Number 10 of The Federalist Papers (arguing in favor of a constitutional republic)
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