Democracy is not “a way of living.” No one even knows (or can agree on) what is and is not a democracy. The primeval tribe is (to my mind) the most democratic of all human societies, but it’s certainly not a “democracy” in the usual American sense of “everybody gets to vote on everything and every vote counts the same.”

The Athenian originators of the idea would be completely astonished at (and probably appalled by) what we call democracy. The people of the Soviet Union believed (somehow) that they were living in a democracy. The Germans long believed (before the rise of Nazism) that what we call democracy is simply rule by the rabble.

Calling democracy a way of living is as meaningless as calling sanity or healthiness a way of living. (There are many democratic ways to live, just as there are many sane or healthy ways to live; none of them constitute a single “way to live.”)

ID: 558
updated: 28 Apr 2002