It is interesting how our definitions and concepts seem to change with time. This applies to virtually everything, but the adage of ‘the tail wagging the dog’ is, here, addressing our understanding of the word ‘Democracy’.
The various forms of democracies are based upon the principle of the ‘dog wagging the tail’. The ‘dog’ is the people. The ‘tail’ is the governing structure that serves the people. Within this structure are the definitions of how the structure operates, what specific services it is responsible for, and the limitations and accountabilities each entity within this structure has. This is the ‘tail’.
Likewise, the ‘people’ have a responsibility to live in an orderly and respectful manner among themselves and provide the resources required for the ‘structure’ to perform its service. This is the ‘dog’.
Within this concept of a democratic society, the ‘structure’ (government) is a servant of the ‘people’. Now comes the problem of maintaining this concept over time. As the populous becomes dense and urbanized it also becomes less secure, less self-sufficient, and less orderly. The element of ‘dependency’ increases. The more ‘dependent’ the dog is the more power the tail has. Eventually, the tail wags the dog.
It is a fine line to walk, preserving a democracy. In its purest sense of the word, pure democracy is also anarchy. A well-defined, and enforced, responsibility and accountability is essential for both the tail and the dog if a civil democracy is to be sustained.
Of course, the issue is very complex, as complex as the diversity of the human creature. As ‘government’ becomes an elite family affair of assumed dictatorial power it will forego the original principles of a democracy and become a cult, a class of arrogances. There is, as in all cycles of life, an apex whereby a process exceeds its limitations. By this, each of us can relate to the dog that is quiet and does not wag its tail. It will be the one who bites you.