Evolution of Representative Government

Democracy, while an ideal, is a product of civilization, not of evolution. Go slowly! select carefully! for the dangers of democracy are:

1. Glorification of mediocrity.

2. Choice of base and ignorant rulers.

3. Failure to recognize the basic facts of social evolution.

4. Danger of universal suffrage in the hands of uneducated and indolent majorities.

5. Slavery to public opinion; the majority is not always right.

Public opinion, common opinion, has always delayed society; nevertheless, it is valuable, for, while retarding social evolution, it does preserve civilization. Education of public opinion is the only safe and true method of accelerating civilization; force is only a temporary expedient, and cultural growth will increasingly accelerate as bullets give way to ballots. Public opinion, the mores, is the basic and elemental energy in social evolution and state development, but to be of state value it must be nonviolent in expression.

The measure of the advance of society is directly determined by the degree to which public opinion can control personal behavior and state regulation through nonviolent expression. The really civilized government had arrived when public opinion was clothed with the powers of personal franchise. Popular elections may not always decide things rightly, but they represent the right way even to do a wrong thing. Evolution does not at once produce superlative perfection but rather comparative and advancing practical adjustment.

There are ten steps, or stages, to the evolution of a practical and efficient form of representative government, and these are:

1. Freedom of the person. Slavery, serfdom, and all forms of human bondage must disappear.

2. Freedom of the mind. Unless a free people are educated — taught to think intelligently and plan wisely — freedom usually does more harm than good.

3. The reign of law. Liberty can be enjoyed only when the will and whims of human rulers are replaced by legislative enactments in accordance with accepted fundamental law.

4. Freedom of speech. Representative government is unthinkable without freedom of all forms of expression for human aspirations and opinions.

5. Security of property. No government can long endure if it fails to provide for the right to enjoy personal property in some form. Man craves the right to use, control, bestow, sell, lease, and bequeath his personal property.

6. The right of petition. Representative government assumes the right of citizens to be heard. The privilege of petition is inherent in free citizenship.

7. The right to rule. It is not enough to be heard; the power of petition must progress to the actual management of the government.

8. Universal suffrage. Representative government presupposes an intelligent, efficient, and universal electorate. The character of such a government will ever be determined by the character and caliber of those who compose it. As civilization progresses, suffrage, while remaining universal for both sexes, will be effectively modified, regrouped, and otherwise differentiated.

9. Control of public servants. No civil government will be serviceable and effective unless the citizenry possess and use wise techniques of guiding and controlling officeholders and public servants.

10. Intelligent and trained representation. The survival of democracy is dependent on successful representative government; and that is conditioned upon the practice of electing to public offices only those individuals who are technically trained, intellectually competent, socially loyal, and morally fit. Only by such provisions can government of the people, by the people, and for the people be preserved.

Reference

Urantia Book. (1955). Evolution of Representative Government. Chicago, IL: Urantia Foundation.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matt 7:20).

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