Democratic and Authoritarian politics are a common lens through which international politics are judged, with various forms of government (theoretical/model and actual) seen in the light of how decisions are made. Another sort of lens, more relevant in domestic politics, judges governmental systems by the degree and types of autonomy they give individual actors. To the extent that the latter lens can be treated as a single one, the features measured are partly orthoganal - a state with few or no democratic traditions might give its members the same types of broad autonomy in both economic and social matters as a democratic minarchist one would, and likewise a democratic state might have strong econmomic and social structures in place for its members.

The issue of decisionmaking in government is one we hold to be, until future levels of societal development are reached, a pragmatic decision rather than a early-value-driven one. Democracy is a means or tool to bring government and society to a state where advances are possible, not (yet) a tool. We recognise that in numerous circumstances, autocracy has produced a state and society more liberal than what would've been reached through democratic means (Peter the Great, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, etc), but see as well that democracy provides some measure of protection against atrocity. Machiavelli's analysis of the forms of government (Discourses) suggests states are at their best when they are structured to encourage tension between autocratic and democratic interests in society (as played out through governmental structure), at the time of writing these being royal power, the nobles, and the people - the specific groups in these class struggle last having existed in the 18th century. Without the class element, many governments have adopted the notion of useful tensions to provide barriers to rapid change or the ambitious, or to frame/contain other societal struggles. The short/mid-term interest in democratic elements in society are to guard against political corruption, provide smooth transitions of power, involve people in broad affairs of society (educational and identity), and to enjoy the efficiencies possible from less centralisation (especially at local or most specific/low-level areas of structures). As levels of political dialogue, individual identification with the broad interests of society, education, and respect for the higher level of education of experts increases, and as socialism comes to be accepted as an ideal in society, the use of democratic-style (including republic-style democracy) government should increase, both moving upwards to replace the party's top-down controls and solidifying its control over the specific and low-level areas of societal structure. In present times, broad democracy should be seen as merely pragmatic for some tasks, but in concordance with honesty, should not be utilised and overridden for tasks when top-down control would dictate a particular result - if the state is to be trusted to guard societal interests, all elections and other democratic institutions, when consulted, must be honest and offer actual choice (although this choice may have unacceptable options disqualified beforehand).

Liberal-secular Socialism is not a movement to maximise individual autonomy in society, nor does it aim to provide the fewest workable constraints on autonomy possible consistent with the functioning of society. Autonomy is recognised as an important value both for happiness and how in loosely-organised and less virtuous societies it provides incentive for work and useful innovation. Most modern societal organisations with an emphasis on autonomy also expose costs to society of various actions that may be more difficult to see in more ordered societies. With high levels of "buy-in" to the institutions of society and value of some roughly functional consensus on notions of the public good, some of these reasons disappear, but placing high value on autonomy (particularly social autonomy) is part of a commitment to liberalism. To the extent that it is workable, a liberal-secular socialism should be organised economically so as to permit and provide labour for people aligned with their interests, education, and skills, and permit competition between organisational units (whatever their name and precise structure) to permit adequate exploration of alternatives and mitigation of such risks, with some level of varying incentives, if necessary, attached to degrees of success and cost. Heavy workplace protections as well as mechanisms to ensure that units do not oppose societal interests would be present, and higher levels of the economy, where individual autonomy is less of a concern, would see more social control. On social matters, autonomy should be seen as a default - absent a strong social interest, people should be given autonomy in most areas of life, although society may, without so strong of a social interest, still establish norms or use the state to "pave paths" for certain social paths.