As individuals, we are accountable for our growth and expansion of knowledge. Some governments make this more difficult than others, however, one should never fall into the trap of blaming an outside agency for one's failures. Epictetus spends significant amount of his expositions discussing how despotic regimes cannot imprison a mind, only the body that is operated by that mind.
As to democracy and objectivism, I suspect that the dangers of democracy becoming oppressive are somewhat less than other forms of government. However, individuals within the society remain obligated to pursue their own goals and happiness. We should also work to help restrict our government to those actions that are valid. I cannot keep from pointing out that ours is a representational republic and not a democracy. It seems that every effort to make it closer to a democracy further erodes those freedoms that the intricate balancing of interactive forces was created to protect. Pure democracy seems doomed to always lead to oppression by the majority. Yet, even in the face of oppression, one can continue to exercise and grow one's mind.
answered Jan 28 '11 at 21:08
It depends on the particular instance of a democratic government, and how you define "healthy". I would say there is very little intrinsic to a democratic form of government that makes it necessarily healthy.
What are the characteristics of a government that make it healthy or unhealthy? Freedom of thought and freedom of action, protection of individual rights for its citizens certainly are key values if one were to go shopping for a government. None of these are part of a formal definition of democracy, though it would be hard to have a democracy without at least some measure of freedom to vote. Neither are these characteristics part of a specific instance of a democratic government, unless they are part of the rules (constitution) under which that specific democracy was established.
Without a thorough understanding of individual rights spread throughout the populace, and protected by the government and its citizens, a democracy is very likely to wander off course. (just like this answer ... :-P
In relative terms is democracy healthier than monarchy, communism, or socialism? Again, I would have to come back to the characteristics of specific instances.
One great example of a government's ability to be healthy or not would be Germany between the end of world war II and now. I think anyone would recognize the great disparity in standard of living that arose on opposite sides of the East/West German border. I won't claim that difference is entirely or even mostly due to democratic / non-democratic government, but certainly the role of the governments involved cannot be overlooked in creating vastly the different results.
answered Jan 29 '11 at 01:14