When I began to write Lessons in Democracy, my objective was to prepare a beginner’s 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 it fail.

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.