“Democracy” by and for the elites

President Biden’s September 1 speech in Philadelphia on “unity” is a poignant example of the confusion surrounding the concept of democracy. Mr Biden said Republicans in MAGA threaten “the very foundations of our republic”. The phrase “threat to American democracy” is so common these days that it means little, except that it encapsulates the dominant ideology of our time, an ideology so pervasive that it goes almost unnoticed. It’s like the air we breathe.

I call it democratism. It is an imaginative and idealistic understanding of popular rule that disdains ordinary people and looks to a cadre of so-called experts to operate the levers of power. According to this ideology, “democracy” and “the people” are the rhetorical cover of the will of the elites. Think of the social media censorship of disinformation in the name of “supporting democracy” and “defending free speech”. How come censorship comes to defend freedom of expression?


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