E. M. Forster’s Two Cheers For Democracy

E. M. Forster's Two Cheers For Democracy

“Two Cheers for Democracy” is an essay by E M Forster that provides an analysis of the strengths and limitations of democratic societies. The essay was published in 1951 amidst the tumultuous aftermath of World War II and the rise of totalitarian regimes. Forster’s work reflects his concern for the future of democracy. This video explores Forster’s main arguments, his critique of democracy, his defence of its virtues, and the relevance of his insights to today’s society.

Forster begins his essay “Two Cheers for Democracy” by acknowledging the imperfections of democracy. He asserts that democracy is not flawless; it has flaws, shortcomings, and contradictions. However, he believes that despite these imperfections, democracy still deserves two cheers for its essential values and principles.

Forster argues that democratic societies often prioritize the opinions and interests of the majority. Democracy suppresses the individuality of a person. In such environments, there is a danger of a “tyranny of the majority”, where minority voices are silenced. Forster warns against making every thought similar as it ends creativity.

Furthermore, Forster highlights the influence of capitalism on democracy. He is of the view that democracy prioritizes profit over human welfare. He criticizes the commercialization of culture and the destruction of genuine human connections in capitalist democracies. In this context, he warns against the dangers of materialism. He sees it as detrimental to the values of democracy.

Despite these criticisms, Forster does not dismiss democracy completely. He recognizes its capacity for self-correction and adaptation. He describes it as “the least hateful form of government”. Forster acknowledges that democracy allows for greater individual freedoms and opportunities. He supports democracy’s commitment to equality and its potential for providing social justice.

Forster elaborates that democracy provides methods for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the expression of differing viewpoints. He sheds light on the importance of tolerance and open-mindedness in democratic societies. He thinks that society needs to respect the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their beliefs or backgrounds.

Moreover, Forster praises the democratic principle of accountability. Accountability enables citizens to hold their leaders accountable and responsible for their actions. He believes that transparency and accountability are essential for preventing the abuse of power and ensuring the integrity of democratic institutions. The writer urges citizen participation in the democratic process. He encourages individuals to exercise their rights and responsibilities as members of a democratic society.

Forster also reflects on the role of art and literature. He argues that the arts have the power to transcend barriers of nationality, religion, and ideology. It is art that promotes a sense of shared humanity.

Forster believes that today society faces new challenges and uncertainties. In an era marked by political polarization, economic inequality, and threats to civil liberties, Forster calls for ethical leadership. He makes tolerance, diversity, and accountability essential for addressing complex issues.

In conclusion, E M Forster’s “Two Cheers for Democracy” offers a thought-provoking reflection on the strengths and limitations of democratic societies. The writer sees imperfections in democracy but considers it the best available system for safeguarding individual freedoms and promoting social justice. Forster’s vision of democracy as an essential form of governance continues to inspire critical reflection and engagement with the principles of democratic citizenship.