Antidemocracy does not take the form of overt attacks upon the idea of government by the people. Instead, politically it means encouraging …“civic demobilization,” conditioning an electorate to being aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy. ~Sheldon Wolin from Democracy, Inc.
If we remain faithful to the cause of “democracy” as we know it, will everything turn out alright? Maybe? But maybe not. According to David Frum and others, we are beginning to experience what to the average mind appears as the unexpected fragility of democracy and democratic systems. Most of us feel this vulnerability as a “wrongness” within the current sociopolitical situation. To be sure, we differ on what is wrong and how to fix it, but most of us feel that our society is “off” in some way. Regardless of our current sociopolitical perspectives, Sheldon Wolin’s notion of “inverted totalitarianism” is most likely at the root of our troubles. Whether by its direct effects or the structures necessary to sustain it, our society has been skewed in various ways, skewed away from the revolutionary Thomas Paine’s notion of “democracy” and “freedom”.
“We are living through the most dangerous challenge
to the free government of the United States
that anyone alive has encountered.”
Juxtapositions, oxymorons and other somewhat paradoxical encounters can presents useful intrigue, piquing our interest considerably more than more mundane occurrences. David Frum and his new book Trumpocracy, might present just such an experience for you. (more…)
“A democratic society becomes very fragile
when [Truth] the central common good is assailed…
directly and repeatedly”
~ Robert Reich
What are the most fundamental components of any democracy? Robert Reich, speaking on the theme of his book The Common Good, suggests that “truth” (which he defines as a “common good”) represents one of the most significant foundations of any democratic endeavor. Regardless of sociopolitical persuasion, preservation of high standards for truth should be paramount in our thinking. Democratic governance depends on such a perspective. However, according to Mr. Reich and many others, the manner in which certain government officials portray the concept of truth represents a clear and present danger to the very foundations of democratic institutions.
In this 40 minute video, Mr. Reich presents his case around three general categories: (1) how did “this” happen (2) the central problem we face and (3) what are we going to do?
Two Items from Jen Hofmann’s
Americans of Conscience Action List
It has been more than a year since the current person occupying the White House along with a curiously right leaning Congress began implementing changes which have altered and at times threatened the lives and wellbeing of common people. Even those who support the person whom some call “45” have begun to realize the People are not his primary interest.
Last year, many began flying a banner with the essential sentiment “Resist!”. When a perceived wrong is being committed by anyone—an individual, a collection of individuals or a government—resistance represents the bare minimum activity for people of conscience. But resistance is not enough. We who truly do seek the wellbeing of the People should be focused primarily on proactive behavior that seeks to enhance or at least maintain the rights and privileges Americans have come to expect.
In this light, for well over a year, Jen Hofmann has been faithfully posting both opportunities for various types of action and thanks to those who have acted on behalf of others. Although we have posted several links to Jen’s Action List in the past, we have not yet passed on anything from her list this year. Today, we correct that. Take a look at a couple entries from Jen’s list. Better yet, go over to her page and choose something to do this week. (more…)
Remember the post from last summer when we highlighted Timothy Snyder’s book On Tyranny? He has begun a YouTube series called “Timothy Snyder Speaks”. Take a look at episode 7, in which Professor Snyder talks about “The Evil of ‘America First’”.
Prof. Snyder describes the series as informal talks that fall between “the 90 seconds” afforded during a TV interview and a 45 minute class lecture. Each is a five to fifteen minute treat of a learned person concerned about the current political climate in America. Agree or disagree, his gentle, almost offhanded style should allow you the opportunity to debate with yourself in an open, civilized manner. While your there, check out other episodes in the series.
Here we are. Now what? After an expectedly tumultuous 2017, when various civil liberties and protections have been spirited away, stolen in the night, brazenly ripped from our freedom clutching fingers, who are we and where do we go from here? This post simultaneously represents the end of the “Death of Democracy” series and the turn from explicit descriptions of socio-political situations toward explorations of intra-personal, psycho-social elements that form our experience of EveryDayLife. (more…)
Death of Democracy
Part IV: What is Democracy
What is this thing we call “democracy”. Just as once there was some general consensus about the nature of truth—facts in the public sphere—we once believed we shared a relatively common meaning of the word “democracy”. One of the reasons we (both in the U.S. and internationally) do not agree on how our governments should operate is that while we might call our form of government “democratic”, that is, reflecting the basic principles of democracy, we do not necessarily agree on the set of principles that constitute such an idea. When we use the phrase “death of democracy”, we might not be talking about the demise of actual “democracy” at all. In fact, we might be talking about something considerably more pervasive, profound and, if lost, catastrophic for American society.