Conflict Between Democracy and Bureaucracy Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1495 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Government

Democracy Is Better Than Bureaucracy

Democracy is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary as "government by the people, either directly or through elected representatives, 2) a country, state, etc. with such government, 3) majority rule, and 4) the acceptance and practice of the principle of equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment (Webster 201).

If democracy means "rule by the people" (from the Greek demos: people and kratein: to rule), then it is not a bureaucracy, which is defined by Webster as "the administration of government through departments managed by officials following an inflexible routine." Another definition of bureaucracy that Webster gives is "the concentration of authority in administrative bureaus" (Webster 99).

The democratic principles expressed by those who inspired the founders of the new democracy called the United States of America, had in mind something much different than the series of bureaus that make up our government today: In 1690, John Locke published his Two Treatises of Government, asserting that all legitimate government rests on the consent of the governed. The baron de Montesquieu, like Locke, believed in a government based on the consent of the governed, but advocating separate and balanced powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches, to guarantee the freedom of the individual. It was these two theories, among others much discussed in the early days of the founding of the nation, upon which the U.S. Constitution was based.

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The struggle over power between bureaucracy and democracy has been debated since democracy began. But bureaucracy had earlier beginnings than democracy. The Chinese Song dynasty in 960 AD set up a bureaucracy made up of civilian scholar/officials, which led to a much greater concentration of power on the emperor than had ever been achieved by emperors previously. Even though it may not have been called a bureaucracy, it was a government ruled by officials in the palace of the emperor, with the emperor as head of this body of astute and wise men who had ultimate ruling power over every part of the Chinese people's lives.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Conflict Between Democracy and Bureaucracy Assignment

By definition, bureaucracies concentrate property and production into their bureaus, so that every section of the economy is controlled by bureaus, including determining which entities receive certain portions of the income from the products and which entities manage it and which are entitled to deal with it socially. Even though this sounds a lot like our government today, this was the definition of Marxist Socialism, which we fought against as a concept.

It has been a long struggle to maintain true democracy in the United States, but the ideal democracy allows for the voice of every single one of the members of a body of people. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, puts power into the hands of a few, who speak for the whole, yet arrange things as they personally feel best, with little regard for the will of the people. This can only happen when most of the members of the ruled body allow it to happen, and so far United States citizens have not allowed this to occur to such an extent that every part of their lives are controlled by bureaucrats.

Unions and the labor movement today are struggling with this question of whether they want their unions set up as bureaus or to remain as democratic organizations, and in their publications debate the difference between bureaucracy, which they say is not their modus operandi and the democratic principles.

John Sweeney... called for transforming the labor movement into a strong force for social justice and democracy in America. In contrast, like venture entrepreneurs, the NUP [New United Partnership] calls for labor market shares, hostile mergers and takeovers of weaker entities, and concentrated power in the hands of directors -especially their own (Benson 2).

This one side of union viewpoints may represent one side of a debate, but it puts voice to the fears of most people who live in a democracy, yet illustrates the overall trend in most organizations, whether capitalistic or governmental today.

Following World War II, with the example of communism taunting them, people in the United States debated whether the government was run by bureaucratic management or profit-and-loss management in the free market. Ludwig von Mises wrote Bureaucracy in 1944, applying his insight concerning economic calculation and his knowledge of the two sides of the equation. He demonstrated in his book that all types of public administration, when run by amateurs, lack the ability to conduct their affairs in an economically rational manner.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Conflict Between Democracy and Bureaucracy.  (2007, February 22).  Retrieved October 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Conflict Between Democracy and Bureaucracy."  22 February 2007.  Web.  27 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Conflict Between Democracy and Bureaucracy."  February 22, 2007.  Accessed October 27, 2021.