Culture & Democracy

There may be many ways in which culture can affect
political structure of one country or another, yet, arguably
the most important way that a country’s culture affects
democracy is through political socialization. According to
Alexis de Tocqueville and his book "Democracy", he
defines culture as an ordered set of symbols, and in turn,
political culture as a set of values and orientations through
which one perceives and reacts to authority. The way that
this set of values and orientations is gained by each person,
is through the process of political socialization that begins
since early childhood and produces "visible" results as a
person becomes a mature individual.

While it is hard to draw a clear line of when political
socialization is a completed process, mainly due to varying
degrees of a each individual’s education, it is safe,
however, to assume that a person is set in his ways close to
the end of his life’s second decade. This assumption, by
virtue of being only an educated guess and thus a broad
generalization, but not a valid statistic of any kind, has its
drawbacks. One must also take into account the fact that
an average person’s mind and experience continue to grow
and develop way beyond the age of twenty, thus giving a
possibility of weighing the advantages and disadvantages of
one’s thinking on a particular issue and its alteration. This
holds true for most people, provided that they are
free-thinking individuals, whose thought process has not
been heavily influenced by unnecessary dogmas and
hindered by agents of political socialization early on in their
lives. This brings us to our next topic.

Parents, school and church are all important agents of
political socialization for anybody. Statistical studies have
been done and have long since become common
knowledge that a child of Democrats is likely to vote
Democrat, respectively, a child of Republicans is more
likely to vote Republican, although both of said people are
free to choose a different way to vote. For many individuals
school and church are second homes. Both institutions
shape individuals in one way or another, producing different
results. While a liberal school may produce free-thinking,
progressive and well-educated individuals, another may
shell out obedient soldier-like "good citizens" that are ready
to follow their leader through rain and fire in whichever
direction. Churches are less likely to vary in the amplitude
of their teachings the way that schools do, i.e. although
most churches preach obedience to one supreme being or
another, they too can produce differently socialized
individuals that can range from religious fanatics to liberal
individuals that are willing to fend for themselves and not be
skewed by the views of the majority. Enlightenment of a
person plays a key role in his personal freedom.

Jeremy Bentham once said that "the liberated intelligence is
sufficient basis for political order and progress." Same can
be said about democracy. Better education gives way to
independent thought that is likely to perpetuate natural
ways of living that ultimately lead to freedom of choice and
action, i.e. democracy. This must not be confused with
anarchy, where no government of any sort is recognized.
Anarchy leads to chaos, which is an unnatural way of life
for a person. This can be proven by observing self and
others. Generally people look for patterns in life. They may
eat like foods and dress alike from day to day depending
on their activities. They may also sit in same places and visit
same locations as their life goes by. All this is due to a
common goal of extracting the most out of one’s position,
thus, things that offer the greatest amount of utility are
selected most often over the ones that don’t. While, at first
sight, anarchy may offer the greatest amount of freedom,
subsequently it destroys many of the favorable choices for
an individual by virtue of being chaotic and becomes
unnatural to one’s being. While it is natural for a person to
develop self and things around him, anarchy hinders
progress, but democracy stimulates it and protects it.

One can of course argue that sometimes great progress that
rivals that of democratic industrialized nations, can be
noticed in authoritarian regimes. As an example one may
use an issue like Soviet Union and space exploration. It is
common knowledge that the USSR, while having an
authoritarian regime, has successfully sent the first man into
space. At the time, in 1961 this event was considered of
world-class importance and on the cutting edge of
technology. However, most of the other technology such as
automobile industry and household products, suffered due
to such things as uneven allocation of the workforce,
absence of the free market economy and thus willingness to
compete for better quality products.