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Reading a book critical of Democracy's current state.

  1. #1
    Bradley victim of incest
    https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Exist-Well-Miss-When/dp/125017984X

    Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone is one of those books you might want to get in its physical form so you can shove it full of bookmarks, highlight sentences, write notes, stick little sticky arrows to note something special, and generally leave it in unfit condition for anyone but you, but that will be okay because you will be going back to it again and again whenever you want to argue about something. Yes, it’s that good.

    Astra Taylor does the difficult job examining democracy, something we talk about a lot without ever completely understanding its full implications. To do this, she examines eight tensions that pull democracies in different directions and are critical to balance or at least understand when understanding democracy. These tensions are interrogated in separate chapters, looking at history, research, and political experience that impinge on them. The vast research involved in these explorations is astonishing.

    In the first chapter she examines the tension between freedom and equality and notes that once upon a time we thought they went hand in hand, but that they have become oppositional thanks to political movements that serve the powerful who define freedom in terms of making money and avoidance of regulation rather than freedom from want, hunger, or fear. Equality has become, to American eyes, the enemy of freedom. The second chapter looks at decision-making, the tension of conflict and consensus. This includes the understanding of loyal opposition, something that seems to be lost with a president who calls his political opponents traitors. I appreciated her taking on how consensus can become anti-democratic and stultifying.

    The third chapter looks at the tension of inclusion and exclusion, who is the demos, to whom is the democracy accountable. In the fourth, the balance between choice and coercion is explored. Pro-corporate theorists talk about government coercion and attacks on liberty when they are not allowed to poison our drinking water and make government the enemy of the people. She also explores how we seem to think freedom is the be all, end all except at work. Chapter Five looks at spontaneity versus structure. This has an important analysis of organizing versus activism and how the focus on youth movements has weakened social justice movements overall as the energy dissipates after college without the labor and community organizations to foster movement energy. Chapter Six explores the balance between mass opinion and expertise and how meritocracy works against democracy. This chapter looks at how education functions to keep the powerful powerful from generation to generation, “the paradoxical, deeply contradictory role of education under capitalism , which facilitates the ascension of some while preparing a great many more for lowly positions of servitude.”

    Chapter Seven looks at the geography of democracy, not just in terms of federalism and the federal, state, and local levels of participating in democracy but also the supranational entities like the World Trade Organization and how they undercut democracy and the integrity of the state. Chapter Eight considers what we inherit from the past, the traditions and norms of democracy and what we owe the future, including our obligations to pass on a livable planet.

    Needless to say, this is all very discouraging in its totality, but the final chapter encourages us to balance pessimism with optimism just as democracy must balance all those other tensions.

    It took me forever to read Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone. That is because after I read a chapter I needed to think about it before I moved on to the next. I took sixteen pages of notes while reading it. I hate taking notes, but I did not want to lose the ideas.

    This is also a book you might want to read with some other people, perhaps discussing a chapter at a time. I do not think it is a book you can read passively, without stopping to talk to someone, tweet, or reread. It’s that good.

    That does not mean I agree with every word of the book, but then the author does an excellent job of interrogating her own ideas. She might seem to be asserting an opinion, and then offer a counter-example because she is rigorous like that. She perhaps places too much faith in Marxist theory from time to time, but then that may be because like democracy, it has never really existed except in conceptual form.

    Taylor does not offer a simple answer because there are no simple answers. She does not pretend to know how to, or even if we can, fix democracy. She gives us the questions, the problems, and some ideas, but as someone who truly believes in government by the people, she asks us to take up the challenge.

    Don't let me find out you informing that's your final warning.
  2. #2
    Bradley victim of incest
    tl;dr : Democracy has a lot of shitty components that have always been utilized by wealthy jedis / oligarchs to create a structure that continues to grant them power and this can only be rectified by killing everyone with more than 100$.
  3. #3
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    Originally posted by Bradley political movements that serve the powerful who define freedom in terms of making money and avoidance of regulation rather than freedom from want, hunger, or fear.

    stopped reading here

    very gay, glad you didn't write that review
  4. #4
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    universal suffrage is anathema to functional democracy

    I'm actually starting to wonder if slavery (or at the very least, a strict caste system) is required for a society to produce a coherent culture
  5. #5
    Bradley victim of incest
    I agree.
  6. #6
    Originally posted by aldra universal suffrage is anathema to functional democracy

    I'm actually starting to wonder if slavery (or at the very least, a strict caste system) is required for a society to produce a coherent culture

    no its not.

    culture is a racial construct.

    a homogenus society have no need for casts.

    and culture is nothing more than a survival strategy, it differs from place to place, weather to weather.
  7. #7
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    Originally posted by Bradley I agree.

    it's been the same all through history - ancient cultures like the Greeks and Romans, specifically the Spartans, kept slaves so that the 'citizens' were able to focus on eugenics, physical prowess and warfare. Athenians did similar but focused more on intellectual pursuits. Romans built their empire this way.

    up until the early 1900s most European states kept rigid peasant (defacto slave) castes so that aristocrats were free to pursue whatever they saw fit - the majority of 'great' art, music, philosophy and science came from the 'upper classes' partially due to selective breeding but much more simply because they didn't have to worry themselves with mundane, repetitive work to continue their existence
  8. #8
    Bradley victim of incest
    aldra do you think you'd be a peasant or an aristocrat
  9. #9
    aldra JIDF Controlled Opposition
    I dunno

    it's really just a biological coin flip isn't it

    considering I'm mixed I'm probably fucked though, the only time I can think of where mixed races outrank the locals were in some of the colonies, I think it was the Spanish and French that liked to bang out a mulatto overclass to manage the niggers for them
  10. #10
    Bradley victim of incest
    Not really it's more of a dice roll, with 1/6 (at best) of ending up well off.

    What are you mixed with? I thought you lived in New Zealand?

    Are you an aboriginal?

    I like non white girls.
  11. #11
    Ghost Black Hole
    looks like a pretty gay book, I can see why you enjoy it so much.
    The following users say it would be alright if the author of this post didn't die in a fire!
  12. #12
    That book MUST be burned, at once.
  13. #13
    Ghost Black Hole
    It's printed on red white and blue stainless steel tablets
  14. #14
    Originally posted by Ghost It's printed on red white and blue stainless steel tablets

    I'd print it on nitroglycerin paper.
  15. #15
    Ghost Black Hole
    The NISBET Totse free information democratic governance Dao metal plate book print will copy all the world government secrets and technology and make them available in every language
  16. #16
    Bradley victim of incest
    It's about improving democracy
  17. #17
    Ghost Black Hole
    i think democracy should be made worse. You should be able to pay for more votes
  18. #18
    Lanny Youth Mutton Buster Champion
    Originally posted by aldra it's been the same all through history - ancient cultures like the Greeks and Romans, specifically the Spartans, kept slaves so that the 'citizens' were able to focus on eugenics, physical prowess and warfare. Athenians did similar but focused more on intellectual pursuits. Romans built their empire this way.

    up until the early 1900s most European states kept rigid peasant (defacto slave) castes so that aristocrats were free to pursue whatever they saw fit - the majority of 'great' art, music, philosophy and science came from the 'upper classes' partially due to selective breeding but much more simply because they didn't have to worry themselves with mundane, repetitive work to continue their existence

    Not that I’m eager to rush to the defense of the modern economic mode, but it does seem like the current system of dividing labor is generally more efficient than an aristocracy that is tasked with everything except manual labor.

    E.g. pulling soldiers from the underclass seems to have actually reduced the frequency of military coups if anything and is definitely more cost effective than using the aristocracy.
    The following users say it would be alright if the author of this post didn't die in a fire!
  19. #19
    Originally posted by Ghost i think democracy should be made worse. You should be able to pay for more votes

    The logic being that all parties have an equal ability and opportunity to buy their votes.
  20. #20
    Speedy Parker Black Hole [my absentmindedly lachrymatory gazania]
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