When I began to write Lessons in Democracy, my objective was to prepare a beginners
guide, which someone with only limited formal education would be able to understand.
As I assembled the material, though, I came to realize that such an explanation
would not be useful. Even worse, it could be misleading. Democracy is a difficult
subject. There are many ways in which the system can go wrong, as the wide-ranging
problems experienced by the different national democracies around the world illustrate.
We can either accept this, and then try to understand democracy, in all of its
complexity, or we can deceive ourselves that it is a simple system and then watch
The converse of this is that democracy has prerequisites for its participants.
The system is government by the people, but for it to function properly the people
must be well educated.
This work is what might more accurately be called a basic guide. It covers all
the elements and issues of the democratic system. And, it provides a thorough
grounding in the fundamental ideas and principles on which democracy is based,
and over which, at present, there is widespread confusion.