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Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “Relationship between Liberty & Democracy” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

Liberty is, in my view, inalienably bound up with democracy. When democracy has been strong, as in ancient Athens or in England before the war, citizens have enjoyed a large measure of liberty. Moreover, fresh liberties were constantly being gained. When democracy has declined, or has been superseded by other forms of government, liberty has declined with it. Under a dictatorship, liberty disappears. Hence the circumstances which have produced the decline of liberty are in large measure identical with those which have led to the decline of democracy. It is these circumstances which I propose to examine.

Pre-eminent among these is the growing size and complexity of the modem State. So vast are the contemporary political and economic fields, far-reaching the forces which determine the course of history, that, so far from controlling, statesmen seem unable even to understand them. Reflecting upon the history of the past twenty years, one is driven irresistibly to the interpretation of phenomena with which Hardy’s philosophy has made us familiar, and contemplate, as he does in the Dynasts, events moving to their pre-destined conclusions unaffected by the celebrations of statesmen in council. Of the major events of this period. The War, the Coal Strike; the General Strike of 1926, the growth of unemployment, the economic collapse of 1929, the financial crisis of 1931-few have been such as human beings have willed. Most have taken place in direct opposition to human will and intention.

This seemingly ‘determined’ appearance is worn by human affairs when the factors which condition events are mainly economic. Economic actions are the results of the freely operating will of individuals. They occur because some person or persons believe that by acting in a particular way they will improve their economic position. But though economic actions are willed, their consequences are not; indeed, their consequences are often precisely the reverse of what their agent wants. Let us suppose, for example, that it is announced that a bank is about to fail. Immediately there is a run on the bank by depositors anxious to withdraw their money. As a consequence, the bank fails. This result, which is a direct consequence of every depositor acting solely with a view to his own economic advantage, is the exact opposite of what depositors as a whole want. If a cry of fire goes up in a theatre, there is a mad rush for the exit. As a consequence the exit is jammed and members of the audience may be stifled, trampled or burnt to death. The theatre example illustrates the. same principle. Everybody having freely acted solely with a view to his own advantage, the cumulative result turns out to everybody’s disadvantage.

The conclusion may be generalized as follows: The effect of economic actions spread out beyond the immediate intentions of their agents producing results upon people unknown to the agents which neither they nor anybody else has intended. As the world becomes increasingly a single economic unit, the area affected by the consequences of economic actions grows more extensive. An old lady living in Bournemouth is unable to pay her bills because a strike in a Japanese silk factory has wiped out her dividends. Victorian taste in mahogany furniture has brought economic collapse to British Honduras whose prosperity largely depended on the export of mahogany while coal miners in South Wales are thrown out of employment by the tapping of oil-wells in Persia.

Because of this blindness of economic actions, an historical period in which events are determined largely by economic factors tends to discourage the politically-minded individual. Every politically conscious human being desires to play some part, however small, in the direction of the affairs of the community. He wishes to feel that he counts that his will can be made effective, that his desires and purposes matter. Nor should his attitude be deplored. To quote Dr. Arnold: ‘The desires to take part in the affairs of government is the highest desire of well-regulated mind.’

It is upon the existence and the alertness of precisely this political consciousness that democracy depends for its successful working. Nobody has realized this more clearly than Mill. As he pointed out in his political Economy, it is the direct and continuous exercise of the functions of citizenship that generates public spirit. It is the citizen who actively engages in the participation of affairs, who that besides the interests which separate him from his fellow citizens, he has interests which connect him with them; and that not only the common weal is his weal, but that it depends on his exertions. When, however, a man feels that the future not only of himself-but of the community are determined by forces over which he can exert no control, his political consciousness is frustrated to the extent that citizens cease to shape, the ends of the community they cease to be citizens. In a modem democratic community the ordinary man tends to lose all but the most remote contact with the State. It impinges upon him only when he has to pay taxes, serve on a jury, or cast his vote. Of these functions, the first is as little likely to arouse his enthusiasm as the second is to engage his interest; while, as for the third, that highly valued suffrage which used to be regarded as the foundation of democracy, is found to amount in practice to no more than the right to reject the slightly less unsuitable of two more wholly unsuitable persons who descend upon the citizen once every five years or so from the clouds of the party headquarters in London. To this situation the politically-conscious citizen, finding himself politically negligible, reacts in one or the other of the two ways. He either becomes apathetic or turns his back upon politics in disgust, or he becomes frankly revolutionary and works for an abrupt, and if need be, violent change in a system which has squeezed him out. Both moods are inimical to democracy and destructive of that alert and intelligent interest in the concerns of the community coupled with the will to co-operate in those concerns which democracy postulates.

Another effect of the complexity of modern society, an effect directly due to the size of the modem State, is the growth of centralization. Local government diminishes in importance as the central administration increasingly encroaches upon its functions. The transfer of the administration of Unemployment Insurance from the local Public Assistance Committees to two national bodies-a Statutory Committee to deal with insurance and a Public Assistance Board to administer relief-may be cited as an illustration. The tendency to centralization is reinforced by the developments of modem science.

These tendencies militate against the initiative of the individual in two ways. In the first place, as the powers of local bodies become restricted, his incentive to serve upon them is diminished. In the second place, increase of centralization leads inevitably to an increase of uniformity. Centralization engenders impatience with local differences and personal idiosyncrasies, and a tendency to treat everybody in terms of standard formulae. The individual becomes a `case’; the citizen is forgotten in the statistical unit. Standardized administration is hostile to personality, regards individuality as a nuisance, and looks for its Utopia to Huxley’s Brave New World. Whatever view we may on other grounds take of this ‘World of Huxley’s’ we can scarcely regarded its government as a democracy, or praise it for its respect for individual liberty.


Relationship between Liberty & Democracy

Liberty is inseparably linked with democracy. When one is affected, the other is likely to be affected; in the same manner and degree. When democracy was firmly entrenched, as in ancient-Athens or Pre-war England, citizens enjoyed a great deal freedom and its field was constantly enlarged. But when democracy was replaced by other forms of government such as dictatorship, liberty also ‘declined. Various causes have led to the curtailment of individual liberty and weakening of democracy. The most important cause. Is the expansion and the growing intricacy of the working of the modem State Man is quite helpless in foreseeing or moulding events because the forces which determine the course of events are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Especially in The economic field, the result of our action is the very opposite of what we wish it to be. Moreover, rapid and all-embracing scientific development has unified the world to such an extent that one jolt, economic or political, in one part of the world is likely to have telling effect on other parts. Instinctively every politically conscious man desires to play some part in the administration of the government but when he sees that his own efforts and intentions carry no weight he is frustrated and turns his back ON the affairs concerning his society and its governance. And since it is one of the duties of the citizen to play his part in politics, he ceases to be a true citizen to the extent he is unable to perform his duties. At present an individual’s relation with the State has been reduced to the taxpaying, serving on the jury and casting votes; the first two functions do not excite much interest and the last one leaves not much of choice for him. His importance has been submerged in the society or the state centralization is another nail in the coffin in individual liberty. The encroachment on the powers of the local bodies creates an apathy in his mind to serve upon them and the uniforms of standard demanded by centralisation leaves no scope for his initiative. Since he is not left with any scope of playing his part effectively, he either becomes indifferent to politics or turns a revolutionary and in either case his attitude is detrimental to the cause of democracy.

(Words – 387)


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