What is democracy really? What do we mean when we use the term? And can it ever truly exist?Astra Taylor, hailed as a “New Civil Rights Leader” (LA Times), provides surprising answers.
There is no shortage of democracy, at least in name, and yet it is in crisis everywhere we look. From a cabal of thieving plutocrats in the White House to campaign finance and gerrymandering, it is clear that democracyspecifically the principle of government by and for the peopleis not living up to its promise.
In Democracy Might Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone, Astra Taylor shows that real democracyfully inclusive and completely egalitarianhas in fact never existed. In a tone that is both philosophical and anecdotal, weaving together history, theory, the stories of individuals, and interviews with such leading thinkers as Cornel West, Danielle Allen, and Slavoj Zizek, Taylor invites us to reexamine the term.
Is democracy a means or an end, a process or a set of desired outcomes? What if those outcomes, whatever they may bepeace, prosperity, equality, liberty, an engaged citizenrycan be achieved by non-democratic means? Or if an election leads to a terrible outcome? If democracy means rule by the people, what does it mean to rule and who counts as the people?
The inherent paradoxes are unnamed and unrecognized. By teasing them, Democracy Might Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone offers a better understanding of what is possible, what we want, and why democracy is so hard to realize.
Astra Taylor is the author of The People’s Platform(winner of the American Book Award) and made two documentary films, Zizek! and Examined Life. Taylor’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, n+1, and The Baffler, where she is a contributing editor. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Living in the Tension 1. Free to Be Winners and Losers (Freedom/Equality) 2. Shouting as One (Conflict/Consensus) 3. Reinventing the People (Inclusion/Exclusion) 4. Choose This, or Else! (Coercion/Choice) 5. Is This What Democracy Looks Like? (Spontaneity/Structure) 6. A Socratic Mob (Expertise/Mass Opinion) 7. New World Order (Local/Global) 8. A Ruin or a Habitation (Present/Future) Conclusion: From Founding Fathers to Perennial Midwives Notes Acknowledgments Index
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