Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production. It is usually considered a branch of the broader socialist movement that draws on the various political and intellectual movements that trace their origins back to the work of Karl Marx. However, communism had a rich history of theory and practice for hundreds of years before Marx's attempt to think communism in the context of industrialization. Communism as a political goal is generally a conjectured form of future social organization, although Marxists have described early forms of human social organization as "primitive communism". Self-identified communists hold a variety of views, including Marxism Leninism, Trotskyism, council communism, Luxemburgism, anarchist communism, Christian communism, and various currents of left communism, which are generally the more widespread varieties. However, various offshoots of the Soviet (what critics call the "Stalinist", and supporters call Marxist-Leninist) and Maoist interpretations of Marxism comprise a particular branch of communism that has the distinction of having been the primary driving force for communism in world politics during most of the 20th century. The competing branch of Trotskyism has not had such a distinction.
Karl Marx held that society could not be transformed from the capitalist mode of production to the advanced communist mode of production all at once, but required a transitional period which Marx described as the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, the first stage of communism. The communist society Marx envisioned emerging from capitalism has never been implemented, and it remains theoretical; Marx, in fact, commented very little on what communist society would actually look like. However, the term "Communism", especially when it is capitalized, is often used to refer to the political and economic regimes under communist parties that claimed to embody the dictatorship of the proletariat.
After the success of the October Revolution in Russia, many socialist parties in other countries became communist parties, signaling varying degrees of allegiance to the new Communist Party of the Soviet Union. After World War II, communists consolidated power in Eastern Europe, and in 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) led by Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China, which would later follow its own ideological path of communist development. Among the other countries in the Third World that adopted a pro-communist government at some point were Cuba, North Korea, North Vietnam, Laos, Angola, and Mozambique. By the early 1980s almost one-third of the world's population lived in Communist states.
Since the early 1970s, the term Eurocommunism was used to refer to the policies of reformist communist parties in western Europe, break with the tradition of uncritical and unconditional support of the Soviet Union. Such parties were politically active and electorally significant in Italy (PCI), France (PCF), and Spain (PCE).
Communist thought has also been traced back to the work of 16th century English writer Thomas More. In his treatise Utopia (1516), More portrayed a society based on common ownership of property, whose rulers administered it through the application of reason. (Encarta) In the 17th century, communist thought arguably surfaced again in England. In 17th century England, the Diggers, a Puritan religious group known as advocated the abolition of private ownership of land. (Encarta) Eduard Bernstein, in his 1895 Cromwell and Communism  argued that several groupings in the English Civil War, especially the Diggers espoused clear communistic, agrarian ideals, and that Oliver Cromwell's attitude to these groups was at best ambivalent and often hostile.
Criticism of the idea of private property continued into the Enlightenment of the 18th century, through such thinkers as Jean Jacques Rousseau in France. (Encarta) Later, following the upheaval of the French Revolution, communism emerged as a political doctrine. François Noël Babeuf, in particular, espoused the goals of common ownership of land and total economic and political equality among citizens. (Encarta)
Various social reformers in the early 19th century founded communities based on common ownership. But unlike many previous communist communities, they replaced the religious emphasis with a rational and philanthropic basis. (EB) Notable among them were Robert Owen, who founded New Harmony in Indiana (1825), and Charles Fourier, whose followers organized other settlements in the United States such as Brook Farm (1841–47). (EB) Later in the 19th century, Karl Marx described these social reformers as "utopian socialists" to contrast them with his program of "scientific socialism" (a term coined by Friedrich Engels). Other writers described by Marx as "utopian socialists" included Charles Fourier and Saint-Simon.
In its modern form, communism grew out of the socialist movement of 19th century Europe. (Encarta) As the Industrial Revolution advanced, socialist critics blamed capitalism for the misery of the proletariat—a new class of poor, urban factory workers who labored under often-hazardous conditions. (EB) Foremost among these critics were the German philosopher Karl Marx and his associate Friedrich Engels. (EB) In 1848 Marx and Engels offered a new definition of communism and popularized the term in their famous pamphlet The Communist Manifesto. (EB) Engels, who lived in Manchester, observed the organization of the Chartist movement (see History of British socialism), while Marx departed from his university comrades to meet the proletariat in France and Germany.
The emergence of modern communism
Karl MarxMain article: Marxism
Like other socialists, Marx and Engels sought an end to capitalism and the systems which they perceived to be responsible for the exploitation of workers. But whereas earlier socialists often favored longer-term social reform, Marx and Engels believed that popular revolution was all but inevitable, and the only path to socialism.
According to the Marxist argument for communism, the main characteristic of human life in class society is alienation; and communism is desirable because it entails the full realization of human freedom. Marx here follows Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in conceiving freedom not merely as an absence of restraints but as action with content. (McLean and McMillan, 2003) They believed that communism allowed people to do what they want, but also put humans in such conditions and such relations with one another that they would not wish to exploit, or have any need to. Whereas for Hegel the unfolding of this ethical life in history is mainly driven by the realm of ideas, for Marx, communism emerged from material forces, particularly the development of the means of production. (McLean and McMillan, 2003)
Marxism holds that a process of class conflict and revolutionary struggle will result in victory for the proletariat and the establishment of a communist society in which private ownership is abolished over time and the means of production and subsistence belong to the community. Marx himself wrote little about life under communism, giving only the most general indication as to what constituted a communist society. It is clear that it entails abundance in which there is little limit to the projects that humans may undertake. In the popular slogan that was adopted by the communist movement, communism was a world in which each gave according to their abilities, and received according to their needs.' The German Ideology (1845) was one of Marx's few writings to elaborate on the communist future:
"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."
Marx's lasting vision was to add this vision to a positive scientific theory of how society was moving in a law-governed way toward communism, and, with some tension, a political theory that explained why revolutionary activity was required to bring it about. (McLean and McMillan, 2003)
In the late 19th century the terms "socialism" and "communism" were often used interchangeably. (Encarta) However, Marx and Engels argued that communism would not emerge from capitalism in a fully developed state, but would pass through a "first phase" in which most productive property was owned in common, but with some class differences remaining. The "first phase" would eventually give way to a "higher phase" in which class differences were eliminated, and a state was no longer needed. Lenin frequently used the term "socialism" to refer to Marx and Engels' supposed "first phase" of communism and used the term "communism" interchangeably with Marx and Engels' "higher phase" of communism.
These later aspects, particularly as developed by Lenin, provided the underpinning for the mobilizing features of 20th century Communist parties. Later writers such as Louis Althusser and Nicos Poulantzas modified Marx's vision by allotting a central place to the state in the development of such societies, by arguing for a prolonged transition period of socialism prior to the attainment of full communism.
Some of Marx's contemporaries espoused similar ideas, but differed in their views of how to reach to a classless society. Following the split between those associated with Marx and Mikhail Bakunin at the First International, the anarchists formed the International Workers Association. Anarchists argued that capitalism and the state were inseparable and that one could not be abolished without the other. Anarchist-communists such as Peter Kropotkin theorized an immediate transition to one society with no classes. Anarcho-syndicalism became one of the dominant forms of anarchist organization, arguing that labor unions, as opposed to Communist parties, are the organizations that can change society. Consequently, many anarchists have been in opposition to Marxist communism to this day.
In the late 19th century Russian Marxism developed a distinct character. The first major figure of Russian Marxism was Georgi Plekhanov. Underlying the work of Plekhanov was the assumption that Russia, less urbanized and industrialized than Western Europe, had many years to go before society would be ready for proletarian revolution could occur, and a transitional period of a bourgeois democratic regime would be required to replace Tsarism with a socialist and later communist society. (EB)
The growth of modern communism
Main article: Leninism
Vladimir Lenin following his return to PetrogradIn Russia, the 1917 October Revolution was the first time any party with an avowedly Marxist orientation, in this case the Bolshevik Party, seized state power. The assumption of state power by the Bolsheviks generated a great deal of practical and theoretical debate within the Marxist movement. Marx predicted that socialism and communism would be built upon foundations laid by the most advanced capitalist development. Russia, however, was one of the poorest countries in Europe with an enormous, largely illiterate peasantry and a minority of industrial workers. It should be noted, however, that Marx had explicitly stated that Russia might be able to skip the stage of bourgeois capitalism.  Other socialists also believed that a Russian revolution could be the precursor of workers' revolutions in the West.
The moderate socialist Mensheviks opposed Lenin's communist Bolsheviks' plan for socialist revolution before capitalism was more fully developed. The Bolsheviks successful rise to power was based upon the slogans "peace, bread, and land" and "All power to the Soviets," slogans which tapped the massive public desire for an end to Russian involvement in the First World War, the peasants' demand for land reform, and popular support for the Soviets.
The usage of the terms "communism" and "socialism" shifted after 1917, when the Bolsheviks changed their name to the Communist Party and installed a single-party regime devoted to the implementation of socialist policies under Leninism. The Second International had dissolved in 1916 over national divisions, as the separate national parties that composed it did not maintain a unified front against the war, instead generally supporting their respective nation's role. Lenin thus created the Third International (Comintern) in 1919 and sent the Twenty-one Conditions, which included democratic centralism, to all European socialist parties willing to adhere. In France, for example, the majority of the SFIO socialist party split in 1921 to form the SFIC (French Section of the Communist International). Henceforth, the term "Communism" was applied to the objective of the parties founded under the umbrella of the Comintern. Their program called for the uniting of workers of the world for revolution, which would be followed by the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat as well as the development of a socialist economy. Ultimately, if their program held, there would develop a harmonious classless society, with the withering away of the state.
During the Russian Civil War (1918-1922), the Bolsheviks nationalized all productive property and imposed a policy of "war communism," which put factories and railroads under strict government control, collected and rationed food, and introduced some bourgeois management of industry. After three years of war and the 1921 Kronstadt rebellion, Lenin declared the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921, which was to give a "limited place for a limited time to capitalism." The NEP lasted until 1928, when Joseph Stalin achieved party leadership, and the introduction of the first Five Year Plan spelled the end of it. Following the Russian Civil War, the Bolsheviks formed in 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or Soviet Union, from the former Russian Empire.
Following Lenin's democratic centralism, the Communist parties were organized on a hierarchical basis, with active cells of members as the broad base; they were made up only of elite cadres approved by higher members of the party as being reliable and completely subject to party discipline.
The Soviet Union and other countries ruled by Communist Parties are often described as 'Communist states' with 'state socialist' economic bases. (Scott and Marshall, 2005) This usage indicates that they proclaim that they have realized part of the socialist program by abolishing the private control of the means of production and establishing state control over the economy; however, they do not declare themselves truly communist, as they have not established communal ownership of property.
Main article: Marxism-Leninism
Marxist-Leninism is a version of socialism, with some important modifications, adopted by the Soviet Union under Stalin. It shaped the Soviet Union and influenced Communist Parties worldwide. It was heralded as a possibility of building communism via a massive program of industrialization and collectivization. The rapid development of industry, and above all the victory of the Soviet Union in the Second World War, maintained that vision throughout the world, even around a decade following Stalin's death, when the party adopted a program in which it promised the establishment of communism within thirty years.
However, under Stalin's leadership, some claimed that evidence emerged that dented faith in the possibility of achieving communism within the framework of the Soviet model. Later, growth declined, and rent-seeking and corruption by state officials increased, which showed true to Marxism, that contradictions exist everywhere.
Despite the activity of the Comintern, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union adopted the Marxist-Leninist theory of "socialism in one country" and claimed that, due to the "aggravation of class struggle under socialism," it was possible, even necessary, to build socialism alone in one country, the USSR. This line was challenged by Leon Trotsky, whose theory of "permanent revolution" stressed the necessity of world revolution.
Main article: Trotskyism
Trotsky reading The Militant.Trotsky and his supporters organized into the "Left Opposition," and their platform became known as Trotskyism. Stalin eventually succeeded in gaining control of the Soviet regime, and their attempts to remove Stalin from power resulted in Trotsky's exile from the Soviet Union in 1929. During Trotsky's exile, world communism fractured into two distinct branches: Marxism-Leninism and Trotskyism. Trotsky later founded the Fourth International, a Trotskyist rival to the Comintern, in 1938.
Trotskyist ideas have continually found a modest echo among political movements in Latin America and Asia, especially in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and The Philippines. Many Trotskyist organizations are also active in more stable, developed countries in North America and Western Europe.
However, as a whole, Trotsky's theories and attitudes were never re accepted in worldwide mainstream Communist circles after Trotsky's expulsion, either within or outside of the Soviet bloc. This remained the case even after the Secret Speech and subsequent events critics claim exposed the fallibility of Stalin. Today there are areas of the world where Trotskyist movements are rather large. However, Trotskyist movements have never coalesced in a mass movement that has seized state power.
Criticism from fellow communists, most notably Maoists and Marxist-Leninists, make claims that Trotskyism is dogmatic, as they claim it does not accept the contradictions that exist in real life and demanding that Ideals be met.
Main article: Maoism
Maoism is the Marxist Leninist trend associated with Mao Zedong. After the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union's new leader, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced Stalin's crimes and his cult of personality. He called for a return to the principles of Lenin, thus presaging some change in Communist methods. However, Khrushchev's reforms heightened ideological differences between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union, which became increasingly apparent in the 1960s. As the Sino-Soviet Split in the international Communist movement turned toward open hostility, China portrayed itself as a leader of the underdeveloped world against the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
Parties and groups that supported the Communist Party of China (CPC) in their criticism against the new Soviet leadership proclaimed themselves as 'anti-revisionist' and denounced the CPSU and the parties aligned with it as revisionist "capitalist-roaders." The Sino-Soviet Split resulted in divisions amongst communist parties around the world. Notably, the Party of Labour of Albania sided with the People's Republic of China. Effectively, the CPC under Mao's leadership became the rallying forces of a parallel international Communist tendency. The ideology of CPC, Mao Zedong Thought (generally referred to as 'Maoism'), was adopted by many of these groups.
After the death of Mao and the takeover of Deng Xiaoping, the international Maoist movement diverged. One sector accepted the new leadership in China, a second renounced the new leadership and reaffirmed their commitment to Mao's legacy, and a third renounced Maoism altogether and aligned with the Albanian Party of Labour.
Pro-Albaninan Marxism Leninism
Another variant of Marxism Leninism appeared after the ideological row between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978. The Albanians rallied a new separate international tendency. This tendency would demarcate itself by a strict defense of the legacy of Joseph Stalin and fierce criticism of virtually all other Communist groupings. The Albanians were able to win over a large share of the Maoists in Latin America, most notably the Communist Party of Brazil. This tendency has occasionally been labeled as 'Hoxhaism' after the Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha.
After the fall of the Communist government in Albania, the pro-Albanian parties are grouped around an international conference and the publication 'Unity and Struggle'. Another important institution for them is the biannual International Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Fascist Youth Camp, which was initiated in 1970s.
Under the leadership of Hardial Bains, general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) a small current emerged in the 1970s of Marxist-Leninist groups in several countries. This tendency aligned with Albania politically, but remained somewhat separate from the main pro-Albanian camp.
Cold War years
By virtue of the Soviet Union's victory in the Second World War in 1945, the Soviet Army had occupied nations in both Eastern Europe and East Asia; as a result, communism as a movement spread to many new countries. This expansion of communism both in Europe and Asia gave rise to a few different branches of its own, such as Maoism.
Communism had been vastly strengthened by the winning of many new nations into the sphere of Soviet influence and strength in Eastern Europe. Governments modeled on Soviet Communism took power with Soviet assistance in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Romania. A Communist government was also created under Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia, but Tito's independent policies led to the expulsion of Yugoslavia from the Cominform, which had replaced the Comintern. Titoism, a new branch in the world communist movement, was labeled "deviationist." Albania also became an independent Communist nation after World War II.
By 1950 the Chinese Communists held all of Mainland China, thus controlling the most populous nation in the world. Other areas where rising Communist strength provoked dissension and in some cases led to actual fighting include the Korean Peninsula, Laos, many nations of the Middle East and Africa, and, especially, Vietnam (see Vietnam War). With varying degrees of success, Communists attempted to unite with nationalist and socialist forces against what they saw as Western imperialism in these poor countries.
Communism after the collapse of the Soviet Union
Communists marching in France on May 1, 2007In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union and relaxed central control, in accordance with reform policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring). The Soviet Union did not intervene as Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary all abandoned Communist rule by 1990. In 1991, the Soviet Union itself dissolved.
By the beginning of the 21st century, states controlled by Communist parties under a single-party system include the People's Republic of China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. President Vladimir Voronin of Moldova is a member of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, but the country is not run under single-party rule. Communist parties, or their descendant parties, remain politically important in many European and Asian countries.
The People's Republic of China has reassessed many aspects of the Maoist legacy; and the People's Republic of China, Laos, Vietnam, and, to a far lesser degree, Cuba have reduced state control of the economy in order to stimulate growth. The People's Republic of China runs Special Economic Zones dedicated to market-oriented enterprise, free from central government control. Several other communist states have also attempted to implement market-based reforms, including Vietnam. Officially, the leadership of the People's Republic of China refers to its policies as "Socialism with Chinese characteristics."
Theories within Marxism as to why communism in Eastern Europe was not achieved after socialist revolutions pointed to such elements as the pressure of external capitalist states, the relative backwardness of the societies in which the revolutions occurred, and the emergence of a bureaucratic stratum or class that arrested or diverted the transition press in its own interests. (Scott and Marshall, 2005) Marxist critics of the Soviet Union, most notably Trotsky, referred to the Soviet system, along with other Communist states, as "degenerated" or "deformed workers' states," arguing that the Soviet system fell far short of Marx's communist ideal and he claimed working class was politically dispossessed. The ruling stratum of the Soviet Union was held to be a bureaucratic caste, but not a new ruling class, despite their political control. They called for a political revolution in the USSR and defended the country against capitalist restoration. Others, like Tony Cliff, advocated the theory of state capitalism, which asserts that the bureaucratic elite acted as a surrogate capitalist class in the heavily centralized and repressive political apparatus.
Non-Marxists, in contrast, have often applied the term to any society ruled by a Communist Party and to any party aspiring to create a society similar to such existing nation-states. In the social sciences, societies ruled by Communist Parties are distinct for their single party control and their socialist economic bases. While anticommunists applied the concept of "totalitarianism" to these societies, many social scientists identified possibilities for independent political activity within them, and stressed their continued evolution up to the point of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Today, Marxist revolutionaries are conducting armed insurgencies in India, Philippines, Iran, Turkey, and Colombia.
Criticism of communism
Main article: Criticisms of communism
A diverse array of writers and political activists have published criticism of communism, such as:
Soviet bloc dissidents Lech Wałęsa, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Václav Havel;
social theorists Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Ralf Dahrendorf, Seymour Martin Lipset, and Karl Wittfogel;
economists Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman;
historians and social scientists Robert Conquest, Stéphane Courtois, Richard Pipes, and R. J. Rummel;
anti-communist left wingers Ignazio Silone, George Orwell, Saul Alinsky, Richard Wright, Arthur Koestler, and Bernard-Henri Levy;
novelist Ayn Rand; and
philosophers Leszek Kołakowski and Karl Popper.
Most of this criticism is focused on the policies adopted by one-party states ruled by Communist parties (known as "Communist states"). Some writers, such as Courtois, argue that the actions of Communist states were the inevitable (though sometimes unintentional) result of Marxist principles; thus, these authors present the events occurring in those countries, particularly under Stalin and Mao, as an argument against Marxism itself. Some critics were former Marxists, such as Wittfogel, who applied Marx's concept of "Oriental despotism" to Communist states such as the Soviet Union, and Silone, Wright, Koestler (among other writers) who contributed essays to the book The God that Failed (the title refers not to the Christian God but to Marxism).
There have also been more direct criticisms of Marxism, such as criticisms of the labor theory of value or Marx's predictions. Nevertheless, Communist parties outside of the Warsaw Pact, such as the Communist parties in Western Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa, differed greatly. Thus a criticism that is applicable to one such party is not necessarily applicable to another.
Comparing "Communism" to "communism"
According to the 1996 third edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage, communism and derived words are written with the lower case c except when they refer to a political party of that name, a member of that party, or a government led by such a party, in which case the word is written "Communist" (with an upper case C). Thus, one may be a communist (an advocate of communism) without being a Communist (a member of a Communist Party or another similar organization).
Other sources[attribution needed] do not back up this claim in the change of the English language as few follow this rule in academic or scholary sources.[vague]
Democracy describes a number of related forms of government. With origins in ancient Greece, Rome, south Asia, and North and South America  democracy has generally grown and expanded throughout history. The principles of democracy emphasize the importance of the individual in the context of government and, today, are a major influence around the world. Though the term democracy is typically used in the context of a political state, the principles are also applicable to other groups and organizations.
In contemporary world politics, democracy has become a significant concept, with most nations in the world claiming to adhere to the broad principles of democracy. However, there is significant diversity among nations describing themselves as democratic in the modern world, making democracy increasingly difficult to define; for instance, the North Korean constitution describes North Korea as a democratic state, but some commentators in Western nations have described it as a totalitarian dictatorship.
2 Forms of democracy
2.1.1 Liberal Democracy
2.2 Direct Democracy
2.3 Socialist Democracy
2.4 Anarchist Democracy
2.5 Tribal Democracy
2.6 Consensus Democracy
3.1 Ancient origins
3.2 Middle Ages
3.3 18th and 19th centuries
3.4 20th Century
4.3 "Democracy" and "Republic"
4.4 Constitutional monarchs and upper chambers
5 Criticisms of Democracy
6 Arguments for democracy
7 Beyond the public level
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
The word democracy derives from the ancient Greek demokratia (δημοκρατία), formed from the roots demos (δημος), "people," "the mob, the many" and kratos (κρατος) "rule".
 Forms of democracy
Forms of government
Part of the Politics seriesList of forms of government
This box: view • talk • editMain article: Democracy (varieties)
Representative democracy involves the selection of government officials by a majority of votes by the people being represented. Representatives may be elected by a particular district (or constituency), or represent the entire electorate proportionally proportional systems, with some using a combination of the two. Some representative democracies also incorporate elements of direct democracy, such as referenda. A characteristic of representative democracy is that while the representatives are elected by the people, to act in their interest, they retain the freedom to exercise their own judgment as how best to do so.
 Liberal Democracy
Liberal democracy is a representative democracy along with the protection of minorities, the rule of law, separation of powers, and protection of liberties (thus the name liberal) of speech, assembly, religion, and property. Conversely, an illiberal democracy is one where the protections that form a liberal democracy are either non-existent, or not enforced.
 Direct Democracy
Direct democracy is a political system where the citizens vote on major policy decisions. Most direct democracies to date have been weak forms, relatively small communities, usually city-states. However, some see the extensive use of referenda, as in California, as akin to direct democracy in a very large polity with more than 20 million potential voters. In Switzerland, 5 million voters decide on national referenda and initiatives two to four times a year; direct democratic instruments are also well established at the cantonal and communal level.
 Socialist Democracy
Socialism has several different views on democracy. Social democracy, democratic socialism, Soviet democracy, and the dictatorship of the proletariat are some examples. Many democratic socialists and social democrats believe in a form of participatory democracy and workplace democracy combined with a representative democracy. Marxist-Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists and other "orthodox Marxists" generally believe in soviet democracy and democratic centralism. Libertarian socialists generally believe in direct democracy and Libertarian Marxists often believe in a Consociational state that combines consensus democracy with representative democracy.
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Please help improve this article, especially its section layout, and relevant internal links. (help) This article has been tagged since July 2007.
 Anarchist Democracy
The only form of democracy considered acceptable to anarchists is direct democracy. Some anarchists oppose direct democracy while others favour it. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued that the only acceptable form of direct democracy is one in which it is recognized that majority decisions are not binding on the minority, even when unanimous. However, anarcho-communist Murray Bookchin criticized individualist anarchists for opposing democracy, and says "majority rule" is consistent with anarchism. Some anarcho-communists oppose the majoritarian nature of direct democracy, feeling that it can impede individual liberty and opt in favor of a non-majoritarian form of consensus democracy, similar to Proudhon's position on direct democracy.
 Tribal Democracy
Certain tribes such as the bushmen organized themselves using different forms of participatory democracy or consensus democracy. 
 Consensus Democracy
Consensus democracy and deliberative democracy seek consensus among the people.
Main article: History of democracy
Since World War II, democracy has gained widespread acceptance. This map displays the official self identification made by world governments with regard to democracy, as of June 2006. It shows the de jure status of democracy in the world.
Governments self identified as democratic
Governments not self identified as democratic.
This map reflects the findings of Freedom House's survey Freedom in the World 2007, which reports the state of world freedom in 2006. It is one of the most widely used measures of democracy by researchers. Note that although these measures (another is the Polity data described below) are highly correlated, this does not imply interchangeability.
Freedom House considers these to be liberal democracies. 
This graph shows Freedom House's evaluation of the number of nations in the different categories given above for the period for which there are surveys, 1972-2005
Number of nations 1800-2003 scoring 8 or higher on Polity IV scale, another widely used measure of democracy.
Still another measure of democracy is The Economist's Democracy Index. The palest blue countries get a score above 9, while the black countries score below 2.
 Ancient origins
The concept of democracy first appeared in Ancient Greek political and philosophical thought. The philosopher Plato contrasted democracy, the system of "rule by the governed", with the alternative systems of monarchy (rule by one individual), oligarchy (rule by a small élite class) and timarchy (rule by one race or nationality over another). Although Athenian democracy is today considered by many to have been a form of direct democracy, originally it had two distinguishing features: firstly the allotment (selection by lot) of ordinary citizens to government offices and courts, and secondarily the assembly of all the citizens. All the Athenian citizens were eligible to speak and vote in the Assembly, which set the laws of the city-state, but neither political rights, nor citizenship, were granted to women, slaves, or metics. Of the 250,000 inhabitants only some 30,000 on average were citizens. Of those 30,000 perhaps 5,000 might regularly attend one or more meetings of the popular Assembly. Most of the officers and magistrates of Athenian government were allotted; only the generals (strategoi) and a few other officers were elected.
One of the earliest instances of civilizations with democracy, or sometimes disputed as oligarchy, was found in the republics of ancient India, which were established sometime before the 6th century BC, and prior to the birth of Gautama Buddha. These republics were known as Maha Janapadas, and among these states, Vaishali (in what is now Bihar, India) would be the world's first republic. The democratic Sangha, Gana and Panchayat systems were used in some of these republics; the Panchayat system is still used today in Indian villages. Later during the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, the Greeks wrote about the Sabarcae and Sambastai states in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose "form of government was democratic and not regal" according to Greek scholars at the time. The Republic of India is currently the largest democracy in the world.
The Roman Republic had elections but again women, slaves, and the large foreign population were excluded. The votes of the wealthy were given more weight and almost all high officials come from a few noble families. 
Democracy was also seen to a certain extent in bands and tribes such as the Iroquois Confederacy. However, in the Iroquois Confederacy only the males of certain clans could be leaders and some clans were excluded. Only the oldest females from the same clans could choose and remove the leaders. This excluded most of the population. An interesting detail is that there should be consensus among the leaders, not majority support decided by voting, when making decisions.  Band societies, such as the bushmen, which usually number 20-50 people in the band often do not have leaders and make decisions based on consensus among the majority.
 Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, there were various systems involving elections or assemblies, although often only involving a minority of the population, such as the election of Gopala in Bengal, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Althing in Iceland, certain medieval Italian city-states such as Venice, the tuatha system in early medieval Ireland, the Veche in Slavic countries, Scandinavian Things, The States in Tyrol and Switzerland and the autonomous merchant city of Sakai in the 16th century in Japan. However, participation were often restricted to a minority, and so may be better classified as oligarchy. Most regions during the middle-ages were ruled by clergy or feudal lords.
The Parliament of England had its roots in the restrictions on the power of kings written into Magna Carta. The first elected parliament was De Montfort's Parliament in England in 1265. However only a small minority actually had a voice; Parliament was elected by only a few percent of the population (less than 3% in 1780. ), and the system had problematic features such as rotten boroughs. The power to call parliament was at the pleasure of the monarch (usually when he or she needed funds). After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the English Bill of Rights was enacted in 1689, which codified certain rights and increased the influence of the Parliament.  The franchise was slowly increased and the Parliament gradually gained more power until the monarch became largely a figurehead. 
 18th and 19th centuries
Although not described as a democracy by the founding fathers, the United States has been described as the first liberal democracy on the basis that its founders shared a commitment to the principle of natural freedom and equality. The United States Constitution, adopted in 1788, provided for an elected government and protected civil rights and liberties. However, in the colonial period before 1776, only adult white male property owners could vote; enslaved Africans, free black people and women were not extended the franchise. On the American frontier, democracy became a way of life, with widespread social, economic and political equality. However the frontier did not produce much democracy in Canada, Australia or Russia. By the 1840s almost all property restrictions were ended and nearly all white adult male citizens could vote; and turnout averaged 60-80% in frequent elections for local, state and national officials. The system gradually evolved, from Jeffersonian Democracy to Jacksonian Democracy and beyond. In Reconstruction after the Civil War (late 1860s) the newly freed slaves became citizens with (in the case of men) the right to vote.
In 1789, Revolutionary France adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and, although short-lived, the National Convention was elected by all males. 
Liberal democracies were few and often short-lived before the late nineteenth century. Various nations and territories have claimed to be the first with universal suffrage.
 20th Century
20th century transitions to liberal democracy have come in successive "waves of democracy," variously resulting from wars, revolutions, decolonization, and economic circumstances. World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires resulted in the creation of new nation-states in Europe, most of them nominally democratic. In the 1920s democracy flourished, but the Great Depression brought disenchantment, and most the countries of Europe, Latin America, and Asia turned to strong-man rule or dictatorships. Fascism and dictatorships flourished in Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, as well as nondemocratic regimes in Poland, the Baltics, the Balkans, Brazil, Cuba, China, and Japan, among others. Together with Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union, these made the 1930s the "Age of Dictators" .
World War II brought a definitive reversal of this trend in western Europe. The successful democratization of the American, British, and French sectors of occupied Germany, Austria, Italy, and the occupied Japan served as a model for the later theory of regime change. However, most of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet sector of Germany was forced into the non-democratic Soviet bloc. The war was followed by decolonization, and again most of the new independent states had nominally democratic constitutions. In the decades following World War II, most western democratic nations had mixed economies and developed a welfare state, reflecting a general consensus among their electorates and political parties. In the 1950s and 1960s, economic growth was high in both the western and Communist countries; it later declined in the state-controlled economies. By 1960, the vast majority of nation-states were nominally democracies, although the majority of the world's populations lived in nations that experienced sham elections, and other forms of subterfuge (particularly in Communist nations and the former colonies.)
A subsequent wave of democratization brought substantial gains toward true liberal democracy for many nations. Spain, Portugal, and several of the military dictatorships in South America became democratic in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was followed by nations in East and South Asia by the mid- to late 1980s. Economic malaise in the 1980s, along with resentment of communist oppression, contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the associated end of the Cold War, and the democratization and liberalization of the former Eastern bloc countries. The most successful of the new democracies were those geographically and culturally closest to western Europe, and they are now members or candidate members of the European Union. The liberal trend spread to some nations in Africa in the 1990s, most prominently in South Africa. Some recent examples include the Indonesian Revolution of 1998, the Bulldozer Revolution in Yugoslavia, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.
The number of liberal democracies currently stands at an all-time high and has been growing without interruption for some time. As such, it has been speculated that this trend may continue in the future to the point where liberal democratic nation-states become the universal standard form of human society. This prediction forms the core of Francis Fukayama's "End of History" theory.
Aristotle contrasted rule by the many (democracy/polity), with rule by the few (oligarchy/aristocracy), and with rule by a single person (tyranny/monarchy or today autocracy). He also thought that there was a good and a bad variant of each system (he considered democracy to be the degenerate counterpart to polity).  .
Among political theorists, there are many contending conceptions of democracy.
Aggregative democracy uses democratic processes to solicit citizens’ preferences and then aggregate them together to determine what social policies society should adopt. Therefore, proponents of this view hold that democratic participation should primarily focus on voting, where the policy with the most votes gets implemented. There are different variants of this:
Under minimalism, democracy is a system of government in which citizens give teams of political leaders the right to rule in periodic elections. According to this minimalist conception, citizens cannot and should not “rule” because, for example, on most issues, most of the time, they have no clear views or their views are not well-founded. Joseph Schumpeter articulated this view most famously in his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. Contemporary proponents of minimalism include William H. Riker, Adam Przeworski, Richard Posner.
Direct democracy, on the other hand, holds that citizens should participate directly, not through their representatives, in making laws and policies. Proponents of direct democracy offer varied reasons to support this view. Political activity can be valuable in itself, it socializes and educates citizens, and popular participation can check powerful elites. Most importantly, citizens do not really rule themselves unless they directly decide laws and policies.
Government will tend produce laws and policies that are close to the views of the median voter — with half to his left and the other half to his right. This is not actually a desirable outcome as it represents the action of self-interested and somewhat unaccountable political elites competing for votes. Downs suggests that ideological political parties are necessary to act as a mediating broker between individaul and governments.Anthony Downs laid out this view in his 1957 book An Economic Theory of Democracy.
Robert A. Dahl argues that the fundamental democratic principle is that, when it comes to binding collective decisions, each person in a political community is entitled to have his/her interests be given equal consideration (not necessarily that all people are equally satisfied by the collective decision). He uses the term polyarchy to refer to societies in which there exists a certain set of institutions and procedures which are perceived as leading to such democracy. First and foremost among these institutions is the regular occurrence of free and open elections which are used to select representatives who then manage all or most of the public policy of the society. However, these polyarchic procedures may not create a full democracy if, for example, poverty prevents political participation. Some see a problem with the wealthy having more influence and therefore argue for reforms like campaign finance reform. Some may see it as a problem that the majority of the voters decide policy, as opposed to majority rule of the entire population. This can be used as an argument for making political participation mandatory, like compulsory voting or for making it more patient (non-compulsory) by simply refusing power to the government until the full majority feels inclined to speak their minds.
Deliberative democracy is based on the notion that democracy is government by discussion. Deliberative democrats contend that laws and policies should be based upon reasons that all citizens can accept. The political arena should be one in which leaders and citizens make arguments, listen, and change their minds.
Radical democracy is based on the idea that there are hierarchical and oppressive power relations that exist in society. Democracy's role is to make visible and challenge those relations by allowing for difference, dissent and antagonisms in decision making processes.
 "Democracy" and "Republic"
In 18th century historical usages, especially when considering the works of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the word "democracy" was associated with radical equalitarianism and was often defined to mean what we today call direct democracy. In the same historical context, the word "republic" was used to refer to what we now call representative democracy. For example, James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, advocates a constitutional republic over a democracy to protect the individual from the majority. Madison was seeking to distinguish between a direct democracy and a representative democracy, but his choice to do so using the words "democracy" and "republic" had no basis in prior usage of the words. 
In contemporary western usage, the term "democracy" usually refers to a government chosen by the people, whether it is direct or representative.  The term "republic" has many different meanings but today often refers to a representative democracy with an elected head of state, such as a President, serving for a limited term, in contrast to states with a hereditary monarch as a head of state, even if these states also are representative democracies with an elected head of government such as a Prime Minister. Therefore, today the term is used by states which are quite different from the earlier use of the term, such as the former German Democratic Republic and the USSR.
Using the term "democracy" to refer solely to direct democracy, or to representative democracy without checks on the power of elected officials, retains some popularity in United States conservative and libertarian circles.
Note that the US constitution states that the power comes from the people "We the people..." However, some argue that unlike a pure democracy, in a constitutional republic, citizens in the US are not governed by the majority of the people but by the rule of law. Constitutional Republics are a deliberate attempt to diminish the threat of mobocracy thereby protecting minority groups from the tyranny of the majority by placing checks on the power of the majority of the population. Thomas Jefferson stated that majority rights cannot exist if individual rights do not. The power of the majority of the people is checked by limiting that power to electing representatives who govern within limits of overarching constitutional law rather than the popular vote or government having power to deny any inalienable right. Moreover, the power of elected representatives is also checked by prohibitions against any single individual having legislative, judicial, and executive powers so that basic constitutional law is extremely difficult to change. John Adams defined a constitutional republic as "a government of laws, and not of men."
The original framers of the United States Constitution were notably cognizant of what they perceived as a danger of majority rule in oppressing freedom and liberty of the individual. The framers carefully created the institutions within the Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights. They kept what they believed were the best elements of majority rule. But they were mitigated by a constitution with protections for individual liberty, a separation of powers, and a layered federal structure. Inalienable rights refers to a set of human rights that are not awarded by human power, and cannot be surrendered. The Constitution of the United States was written to protect the inalienable rights of citizens from potential excesses of government, even if taken by majority rule. Inalienable rights are not granted by government, but by nature.
Republicanism and Liberalism have complex relationships to democracy and republic. See these articles for more details.
 Constitutional monarchs and upper chambers
Initially after the American and French revolutions the question was open whether a democracy, in order to restrain unchecked majority rule, should have an elitist upper chamber, the members perhaps appointed meritorious experts or having lifetime tenures, or should have a constitutional monarch with limited but real powers. Some countries (as Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavian countries and Japan) turned powerful monarchs into constitutional monarchs with limited or, often gradually, merely symbolic roles. Often the monarchy was abolished along with the aristocratic system (as in the U.S., France, China, Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Greece and Egypt). Many nations had elite upper houses of legislatures which often had lifetime tenure, but eventually these senates lost power (as in Britain) or else became elective and remained powerful (as in the United States).
 Criticisms of Democracy
Modern criticism of democracy comes mainly from theocratics, anarchists, communists, fascists and monarchists. For debates on specific forms of democracy, see the appropriate article, such as Liberal democracy, Direct democracy, Polyarchy, Sortition, etc. See Anti-Democratic Thought.
Other critics of democracy include the Founders of the USA. They noticed that a democracy uncontrolled by a strong constitution would lead to the conclusion that anyone could ram any position down everyone's throats simply by getting a majority. Since the government of the USA has been degenerating from a constitutional republic into a democracy, modern critics see a rise in anger as the left wing and the right wing of Control Freaks Unanimous try to get that majority for their positions. www.poorgrandchildren.com
 Arguments for democracy
Empirical research shows that more democratic nations have little democide., rarely or never make war on one another, and have few civil wars. See Democratic peace theory.
Poor democracies have better education, longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, access to drinking water, and better health care than poor dictatorships. This is not due to higher levels of foreign assistance or spending a larger percentage of GDP on health and education. Instead, the available resources are managed better. Democracies do not have large scale famines.
Refugee crises almost always occur in nondemocracies. Looking at the volume of refugee flows for the last twenty years, the first eighty-seven cases occurred in autocracies. Political institutions are extremely important in determining the prevalence of corruption: democracy, parliamentary systems, political stability, and freedom of the press are all associated with lower corruption. Democracies are more likely to win wars than non-democracies. Democracies are more often associated with a higher average self-reported happiness in a nation.
Regarding the claim that nondemocracies have higher growth, this only applies to East Asia. If leaving out East Asia, then during the last forty-five years poor democracies have grown their economies 50% more rapidly than nondemocracies. Poor democracies such as the Baltic countries, Botswana, Costa Rica, Ghana, and Senegal have grown more rapidly than nondemocracies such as Angola, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe. A recent meta-analysis finds that democracy has no direct effect on economic growth. However, it has a strong and significant indirect effects which contribute to growth. Democracy is associated with higher human capital accumulation, lower inflation, lower political instability, and higher economic freedom. There is also some evidence that it is associated with larger governments and more restrictions on international trade.
 Beyond the public level
This article deals mainly with democracy as it relates to systems of public government. This generally involves nations and subnational levels of government, although the European Parliament, whose members are democratically directly elected on the basis of universal suffrage, may be seen as an example of a supranational democratic institution.
Aside from the public sphere, similar democratic principles and mechanisms of voting and representation have been used to govern other kinds of communities and organizations.
Many non-governmental organisations decide policy and leadership by voting.
In business, corporations elect their boards by votes weighed by the number of shares held by each owner.
Most trade unions choose their leadership through democratic elections.
Cooperatives are enterprises owned and democratically controlled by their customers or workers.
Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve.
–George Bernard Shaw
All in all, that was a fancy way of saying wtf, your names don't make sense to me, leave these forums and go to Africa and try to rule that.