The passage given below is followed by a question. Choose the best answer from the options given.
The passage given below is followed by questions. Choose the best answer for each question.
Democracy rests on a tension between two different principles. There is, on the one hand, the principle of equality before the law, or, more generally, of equality, and, on the other, what may be described as the leadership principle. The first gives priority to rules and the second to persons. No matter how skilfully we contrive our schemes; there is a point beyond which the one principle cannot be promoted without some sacrifice of the other.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the great nineteenth century writer on democracy, maintained that the age of democracy, whose birth he was witnessing, would also be the age of mediocrity: in saying this he was thinking primarily of a regime of equality governed by impersonal rules. Despite his strong attachment to democracy, he took great pains to point out what he believed to be its negative side: a dead level plane of achievement in practically every sphere of life. The age of democracy would, in his view, be an unheroic age; there would not be room in it for either heroes or hero-worshippers.
But modern democracies have not been able to do without heroes: this too was foreseen, with much misgiving, by Tocqueville. Tocqueville viewed this with misgiving because he believed, rightly or wrongly, that unlike in aristocratic societies there was no proper place in a democracy for heroes and, hence, when they arose they would sooner or later turn into despots. Whether they require heroes or not, democracies certainly require leaders, and, in the contemporary age, breed them in great profusion; the problem is to know what to do with them.
In a world preoccupied with scientific rationality the advantages of a system based on an impersonal rule of law should be a recommendation with everybody. There is something orderly and predictable about such a system. When life is lived mainly in small, selfcontained communities, men are able to take finer personal distinctions into account in dealing with their fellow men. They are unable to do this in a large and amorphous society, and organised living would be impossible here without a system of impersonal rules. Above all, such a system guarantees a kind of equality to the extent that everybody, no matter in what station of life, is bound by the same explicit, often written, rules, and nobody is above them.
But a system governed solely by impersonal rules can at best ensure order and stability; it cannot create any shining vision of a future in which mere formal equality will be replaced by real equality and fellowship. A world governed by impersonal rules cannot easily change itself, or when it does, the change is so gradual as to make the basic and fundamental feature of society appear unchanged. For any kind of basic or fundamental change, a push is needed from within, a kind of individual initiative which will create new rules, new terms and conditions of life.
The issue of leadership thus acquires crucial significance in the context of change. If the modern age is preoccupied with scientific rationality, it is no less preoccupied with change. To accept what exists on its own terms is traditional, not modern, and it may be all very well to appreciate tradition in music, dance and drama, but for society as a whole the choice has already been made in favour of modernisation and development. Moreover, in some countries the gap between ideal and reality has become so great that the argument for development and change is now irresistible.
In these countries no argument for development has greater appeal to urgency than the one which shows development to be the condition for the mitigation, if not the elimination, of inequality. There is something contradictory about the very presence of large inequalities in a society which professes to be democratic. It does not take people too long to realise that democracy by itself can guarantee only formal equality; beyond this, it can only whet people’s appetite for real or substantive equality. From this arises their continued preoccupation with plans and schemes that will help to bridge the gap between the ideal of equality and the reality which is so contrary to it.
When pre-existing rules give no clear directions of change, leadership comes into its own. Every democracy invests its leadership with a measure of harisma, and expects from it a corresponding measure of energy and vitality. Now, the greater the urge for change in a society the stronger the appeal of a dynamic leadership in it. A dynamic leadership seeks to free itself from the constraints of existing rules; in a sense that is the test of dynamism. In this process it may take a turn at which it ceases to regard itself as being bound by these rules, placing itself above them. There is always a tension between ‘charisma’ and ‘discipline’ in the case of a democratic leadership, and when this leadership puts forward revolutionary claims, the tension tends to be resolved at the expense of discipline.
Characteristically, the legitimacy of such a leadership rests on its claim to be able to abolish or at least substantially reduce the existing inequalities in society. From the argument that formal equality or equality before the law is but a limited good, it is often one short step to the argument that it is a hindrance or an obstacle to the establishment of real or substantive equality. The conflict between a ‘progressive’ executive and a ‘conservative’ judiciary is but one aspect of this larger problem. This conflict naturally acquires added piquancy when the executive is elected and the judiciary appointed.
A key argument the author is making is that:
- in the context of extreme inequality, the issue of leadership had limited significance.
- democracy is incapable of eradicating inequality.
- formal equality facilitates development and change.
- impersonal rules are good for avoiding instability but fall short of achieving real equality.