I will begin with the contrasts or differences between the two forms of government. First, a monarchy is top-down: if we imagine a society as a pyramid, the monarch is at the very top. Traditionally, across societies around the world, the monarch is understood to derive his or her power...
I will begin with the contrasts or differences between the two forms of government. First, a monarchy is top-down: if we imagine a society as a pyramid, the monarch is at the very top. Traditionally, across societies around the world, the monarch is understood to derive his or her power from a divine force and to be enacting the divine will. His power comes from God and flows down through him to the aristocracy and finally to the people, who are expected to obey his commands. In contrast, in a democracy, power is bottom-up: the people choose the government, and those chosen to govern are expected to obey the will of the people.
A monarchy, in pure form, is the rule of one person. Its advantage is that there is no confusion about who is in charge and policies can be quickly implemented. Democracy reflects the collective will of the majority of the population. Its advantage, in contrast to a monarchy, is that everyone get a voice, which can lead to more thoughtful outcomes because the needs of different groups are taken into account. Its disadvantage is that it can be slow and cumbersome.
Similarities between the two systems of governance are more difficult to understand, but I will point out two: in Aristotelean thought, the monarch and the people are naturally allied against the aristocracy. The monarch appeals to and gains the support of the mass of people so as to check the power of the aristocrats, who would otherwise grab the crown. In a democracy, the president or chancellor or prime minister of a country is generally also aligned with the people, who are, after all, those who elected him.
Second, both systems can warp into tyranny. A monarch can decide to grab too much power and can make irrational or irresponsible decisions. In what John Stuart Mill called the tyranny of the democracy, a majority of the people can elect to follow an irrational and destructive course or leader.