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25 Aug, 2010 07:34

“Ridiculous to define modern democracy as rule by people” – historian

Since the birth of the idea in Ancient Greece, the term “democracy” has undergone many changes in definition and essence, historian and political theorist John Dunn told RT.

“Democracy is a Greek word for naming that particular set of Greek arrangements a long time ago, and those arrangements essentially disappeared 2,500 years ago roughly. And they haven’t really reappeared except on a very small scale,” John Dunn said. “They haven’t much to do with the way in which any modern state is governed – modern states are much bigger and they are governed through complicated public bureaucracies. They are governed by relatively small numbers of, in a sense, professional politicians. That is a very different structure.”

Dunn pointed out that democracy is both the name of a form of government – not very clearly defined form of government – and a political pretension or political claim, “which is that form of government is actually authorized by the people at large.”

“But if you ask how the people actually do their authorizing, the answer is they have a very-very small bit-part, really,” the historian said. “They intervene in some countries barely at all, and in any country only every few years and very briefly, and in a way that gives them extremely little control over the outcome.”