Role of the State
Society is the means by which individuals attain their ends. The state is the institution which is assigned the task of peacefully preserving interpersonal relations and whose leaders remain in office so long as they have the support of the majority. The state has evolved to be the one power which has been assigned the task of insuring that the minorities in society do not destroy the social order which has been built up by the majority in the pursuit of their desired ends. It is the institution that can legitimately use compulsion and coercion in the preservation of a peaceful society. This is an awesome responsibility and should not be subjected to the vagrancies of current party politics. The state must reflect the principles of social cooperation and undertake actions considered by the majority of citizens for the necessary implementation of these principles. Governments do not dictate goals for society rather they reflect the goals that the immense majority of the electorate desire in the pursuit of individual ends with appropriate safeguards for minorities. The state gives the society information about the various means by which the majority goals may be best realized. In providing a peaceful environment it assists the individual to pursue intellectual, scientific, philosophical enlightenment and removes obstacles so that individuals can obtain their basic needs and pursue their own goals.
Democracy is built on the principle whereby the people who are in office and who are no longer supported by the majority can be replaced by those who do. But society and the state do not have an agenda for its own ends which has no bearing on individual ends; only for the protection of the need for humans to act as a society and for that society to strengthen and evolve. When a democratic majority is obtained, it aims to develop and implement a constitution which safeguards the smooth workings of social cooperation among individuals in that society. It does not have the right to oppress the minorities but the obligation to discuss and convince if necessary all citizens of correct principles and the preferred structure of policy. The minorities always have the recourse to change leadership periodically if their principles become a majority view by enlightened discussion.
Democracy thus is secular and is separate from religion. It is neutral with regard to religious beliefs which do not interfere with the smooth functioning of governance. Religion on the other hand is a purely personal relationship between an individual and some divine reality and gives that individual a certain behavior characteristic but does not pretend to make policy for all individual social relationships such as work teams, economic policy and governance. The individual can freely adjust their behavior in their private affairs but democratic governance is designed for a rational discussion on goals and means for the better functioning of society free from the dictates of religious beliefs and revelation. Democratic governance should fight any attempt to prevent people from freely discussing and practicing their religious beliefs.
Democracy then is the system of government best able to preserve the peace and enhance the best functioning of society. Political parties within a democracy were originally designed by individuals to structure a majority/minority debate in the process of getting to governance. Over the last few decades political parties, once elected, have come to advocate policies that are held by certain self interest groups. This situation has led to a stalemate in national parliaments, increasingly bitter partisan debate, entrenchment of ideologies, and a constipation of action. It is considered so impractical now and indeed so far removed from the ideal concept of a state reflecting the principles of social cooperation and the safeguarding of peace that it is conceivable that political parties will be replaced by a democratic system of direct election of local representatives.
(c) 2020, Harry O'Connell
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