Democracy is a system of government where the leading part is chosen by the people to govern society. Democracy works on principles such as freedom of speech, judiciary, and law and order. When these principles are targeted, democracy is threatened and starts to erode. This was seen in the 1930s when Germany’s democratic government fell and was replaced with a man that provided simplistic solutions to the complicated problems of democracy. He immediately grew in popularity and was established the new leader of Nazi Germany. Today Nazism is replaced by democracy, and even though it is a good system, it is still vulnerable to individuals who target the principles. This is shown clearly in Lord of the Flies where an individual can target vulnerable areas of democracy, causing it to crumble.
Initially, the boys are very keen on being rescued. In order to do so, rules and jobs are established to keep society functioning. The voting of a leader symbolizes a democracy that has been created on this island. Furthermore, when Ralph uses the conch to call a meeting, Jack’s leadership skills become distinctly visible. “Choir! Stand still!”(16). Here Jack is seen using his voice to intimidate the immediate opposition, which is Ralph. He shouts at the choir to show that he has authority and possesses natural leadership ability. Jack also wants to be called by his last name. “‘Kids’ names,’ said Merridew. ‘Why should I be Jack? I’m Merridew,’” (17). Calling a person by their last name is symbolic of my respect and authority. This intimidates Ralph yet further when he insists that he should be called by his last name. Jack thinks that being called by his first name is ‘kids’ names’. This is enough to intimidate the opposition and proof of this is seen when Henry, a littlun, mentions that he’s scared, Ralph says, “Shut up!,”(18). He says this absently, trying to compete with Jack and show that Ralph also has some authority over the boys. Jack’s success in intimidating Ralph, who is the opposition is shown yet again later in the book when Ralph, Jack, and Roger are getting ready to climb the mountain and look for the beast. Ralph suggests that they should wait another day to climb the mountain. “[The other boys] murmured agreement, but Jack was standing by his shoulder. ‘If you’re frightened of course-’”(130). Jack says this in front of the boys to show that if Ralph denies going up the mountain today, he is not chief with leadership ability and he is too scared to protect the community.
After a few days, Ralph sees a ship and is furious when he climbs the mountain and discovers that Jack and his hunters had let the fire out. When he confronts Jack about the fire, Jack replies, “We needed meat,” (75). This is symbolic of Jack rising as a leader who can provide simple solutions to the complex tasks that needed to be carried out in a democratic society. Furthermore, Jack’s response is symbolic of how he has started to disregard the rules set in place, showing how easily democracy can fall if there is nothing to enforce the rules.
Additionally, Jack uses democratic principles such as freedom of speech to encourage democratic backsliding. When Ralph warns Jack that he is breaking the rules, Jack uses freedom of speech by saying, “Bollocks to the rules! We’re strong – we hunt! If there is a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat-!”(99). As mentioned earlier, Jack uses freedom of speech to speak against the leader, who is Ralph. As a result, Jack has created an overemphasis on the lack of security of the boys. Jack uses the freedom of speech to point out the weaknesses in democracy, hinting that there are no bureaucrats or judiciary to enforce the rules. Jack knows this, which is why he says, “Bollocks to the rules…”(99). This shows how democracy is vulnerable if there is nothing to enforce the rules and thus there are no consequences for not following the rules. Immediately after, Jack runs off, with the other boys following right behind him. Piggy suggests that Ralph should blow the conch and call the boys back. “You got to be tough now. Make ‘em do what you want,”(99). Ralph answers with, “If I blow the conch and they don’t come back; then we’ve had it…” (99). This shows that Ralph does not want to use power to keep the boys in order, making it another vulnerable area of democracy. As a result, he is not able to keep Jack from lashing out and the democracy starts to crumble.
After a few days, the power of an individual is shown again. The boys are in a circle with Roger at the center. They are pretending that he is a boar and are throwing their spears at them. Even Ralph is involved in it, drunk on the desire to hunt and kill. “The circle moved in and round. Robert squealed in mock terror, then in real pain. ‘Ow! Stop it! You’re hurting me!’” (125). Even after this statement, Jack continues to encourage the boys to hurt Roger. Jack knows that democracy is on the brink of collapse and uses the ring around Roger to show is militarism the power of his hunters.
In a like manner, individuals can target democracy by making the elections unfair and biased. “‘He’s like Piggy. He says things like Piggy. He isn’t a proper chief.’ Jack clutched the conch to him. ‘ He’s a coward himself,’”(138). Here Jack is talking to the group of boys about the beast and how they should all hunt it but Ralph denies this. By saying this, Jack has created an over-emphasis of the lack of security. Additionally, Jack calls Ralph a coward in front of the boys. By doing this, he is hoping that people will vote for him when he opposes Ralph later in another election. By doing so, Jack is making the upcoming re-election unfair. In the same way, there is also an example of this earlier in the book when says, “I ought to be chief,’ said Jack with simple arrogance, ‘because I’m chapter chorister and head boy. I can C sharp,’”(18). Moreover, Jack is trying to convince the boys to vote for him while telling them that Ralph cannot do any of these things. This is also seen when the voting takes place and the choir has no choice but to raise their hand and vote Jack for chief.
Lastly, to make sure democracy is not established again, a leader must get rid of his opposition. To get rid of Ralph, Jack needs to establish his own society. “I’m not going to play any longer. Not with you,”(140). Before running away, he also says, “anyone who wants to hunt when I do can come too,”(140). When Jack realizes that no one would want to join his tribe, he refers back to his point earlier in the book where he makes the boys think that they are going to starve because they do not have enough meat. Jack runs off and a couple of days later, most of the boys follow suit until only Ralph, Simon, Piggy, and Samneric are left. Jack starts to get rid of his opposition one by one. He starts by killing Simon. Jack does this by getting his tribe excited and as they are dancing in the dark, Jack orders his tribe to kill Simon because he was mistaken for the beast. Next, Jack kills Piggy and forces Samneric to join his tribe. “The rock struck Piggy a glancing from chin to knee; the conch exploded into a thousand white fragments and ceased to exist,”(200). This is where democracy falls completely because the conch is a symbol of democracy and it has been shattered by the rock. Finally, Jack begins to hunt down Ralph. If Jack is able to kill Ralph, he has successfully defeated the opposition. However, Jack is not able to kill Ralph before a naval officer arrives and the boys are rescued.
Thus, Lord of the Flies is a political allegory that shows how an individual can target the principles of democracy to cause democratic backsliding, and eventually, cause the democracy to fall. The reason why democracy is especially vulnerable on the island is that there are no bureaucrats or judiciary to check for wrongdoing from the government and any opposition. In the modern world, democracy is the only form of government that has succeeded so far as long as it is kept in check.