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Why We Can’t Give Up on Democracy


Why We Can’t Give Up on Democracy

Frances Moore Lappé

Trust in democracy is tumbling. In 1995, one in fifteen Americans said they’d approve of military rule. By 2014, the share had swollen to one in six. Note this frightening crash of confidence preceded the compromised 2016 election and a president who seems particularly fond of autocrats.

Whoa. It sure seems like the right time to re-center on one truth: Only democracy can meet essential human needs, even beyond the physical.


Thank you. And don’t you give up either.

“Unlike autocracy, real democracy encourages citizens’ coming together in their communities, including for common action to challenge and strengthen their democracy.”

Yes. Even so. Democracy means far more than the subcategory; representative democracy.

Capitalism has a companion form of government known as representative democracy, which is mostly involved with representing capital.

Real democracy is a tool to focus distributed intelligence of cosmic powered biology manifest as human. It is more than representative democracy. Thank you again


I agree with much of this piece, but conversations I’ve recently had with people I know from Brazil, have reinforced my sense of the urgent need for progressives to develop strategic plans of action, positive visions, and success means of getting messages out.

Clearly these have not been present in Brazil, where extreme right Bolsonaro is likely to be elected President. Bolsonaro has spoken of his hatred of LGBTQ+ folks, yet in conversations with a group of gay Brazilians, in the US, I was shocked to find them to be enthusiastic supporters of Bolsonaro. I was similarly shocked when I found that some Brazilians, who participated in Occupy Wall Street, expressed their enthusiasm for Bolsonaro despite his disdain for the poor. In both cases, people expressed outrage at the corruption of the PT and Lula - who they seem to have come to despise. Without a clear path forward, a vision, or the ability to get out the progressive message, the critique of PT corruption seems to have distracted many Brazilians from focusing on the heinous racism, homophobia, and plutocratic messages of Bolsonaros.


“Trust in democracy is tumbling.”

LOL. Oligarchy is “democracy”?


There’s nothing to be gained by giving up on democracy.

But there is not a lot to be gained by pretending one is in a democracy when one is not.

The US is a plutarchy with some remaining democratic institutions. There’s no point undermining those. But there’s a lot to be lost by pretending that one has supported democracy by participating in a bogus process without protest, or by omitting action outside of electoral action when action within is curtailed or ignored.

The tragedy in the US, then, is not that the public has lost faith in American elections or elected officials, but that American elections and elected officials do not merit that confidence, almost down to the individual.

The lack of confidence in elections is more than anything a sign that Americans are finally waking up, albeit a bit disoriented and with some strange dreams.


The extended process of undermining Lula and stealing the following election deserves close examination.

Much of the disinformation around the 2016 campaign in the States has been similar, and we are bound to see more.


We may be about to see a 1929 moment in the Trump economy. When that happens all those fortunate to be employed by our hero will be back where they started, only now with black lung disease and in homeless shelters without medical coverage.


Trump hopes the Democrats take control of Congress so he can blame all of his f___k ups during the next two years on them, thereby helping him win a second term.


I think you are missing the point and standing the article on its head.


The only road to democracy is socialism. We are not “losing” democracy is the USA, we are losing the illusion of what we never had.


When you try outflank the right by by moving further to the right, don’t expect to win. That’s been the Dems strategy for 2 decades now.


Only 8 comments? OK, the stories about the evils of Trump are a lot more fun and require neither thought nor action. But this woman, not surprisingly, is on to something. Check out the link to “a rising Democracy Movement” near the end of the article. I have been touting the “worldwide movement of movements” for six years, and more emerge every year, this one the year after I became aware of the phenomenon.

Also check out a book by Yannis Varoufakis, the guy who resigned as Finance Minister of Greece when his colleagues who had won the election caved to the IMF. The book is Talking To My Daughter About the Economy: Or, How Capitalism Works–and How It Fails, a tour de force that recapitulates my own development as an economist (it’s bogus) and near the end makes a strong case for the necessity of democracy from an entirely different perspective.

(He also cites Churchill’s famous remark that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.)

Also check out a book titled We the People, about the Community Rights Movement. Keep that one quiet, as it needs to stay below the radar, being as radical and subversive and in precisely the same way as the proclamation of rights of individual humans by the Founders of the Republic and their mentors (Locke --> Jefferson, et al). There are dozens of books with that title. You want the one by Linzey and Campbell.


Interesting. It sounds real familiar to that from many in this this forum 2 years ago… “Hillary and the Democratic Party is utterly crooked and corrupt - Trump will shake things up for the benefit of the working class.”

Of course, the factual reality is that under the PT, the Brazilian economy expanded and poverty was slashed, and the claims of corruption were false or certainly not as bad as that on the right…

I think an understanding of the global descent to fascism must start at the way the modern, portable-device internet utterly isolates citizens from physical reality while it fills them with preposterous fabricated narratives and conspiracy theories.


Arguably there is no part of America that has ever been a democracy, and as you stated, there’s nothing to be gained from pretending otherwise. And as long as Americans continue to fail to understand the nature of their cage then they have no way of escaping it.

Always rigged. Still the same.


Every political theorist ever has noted that democracy is a complex system that has stiff requirements for success. It requires an active, educated, and engaged citizenry. It requires minimal inequality (so as to minimize power differentials between citizens). It requires elites as committed to some form of majority rule as everyone else (all systems require elite subscription to function). And these are just the most basic requirements.

The US falls short on every single one of them. And a most readers here already know, we’re not a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word. Our elections have more in common with the ones in the old Soviet Union than in the fantasies of western canon. Like the former, it was usually a contest between which face you liked more. But the policies were gonna be the same regardless.

One reason that so many people–and this includes an increasing number of some well educated scholars–are leaning towards a more centralized authority is that at least an autocratic system has the off chance that a good King/CEO/Lord of the Universe might turn out to be not a huge douche. And with absolute power, something good might come of it. No lobbyists. No corruption (hey, when you already rule everything, what else can anyone bribe you with?). It’s the classic Hobbesian sovereign.

I have had a long love affair with democratic traditions, and I still do. But it’s a historically contingent system. And history isn’t conducive to functional democracy at this time. The experiment will be put on ice for awhile.

Our challenge isn’t restoring/creating democracy. Our challenge is to restore quality rulership in any form. And then hope like hell for the best.


Now, that is exactly, even though they are not aware of it, what the one in 15 have!