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Democracy Is What We Make of It

  • In other words, institutions won’t save us: We have to save them.
  • Related: Flowers and Zeese | US Democracy Crisis Creates Illegitimate Political System

Nathan Pippenger, Democracy   Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. All reader supported Evergreene Digest relies - exclusively!- on reader donations. Click on the donation button to the right <> to make a contribution and support our work.

August 9, 2018 | he political theorist Melvin Rogers has written a succinct and compelling rebuttal to the “resilient institutions” theory that remains, even now, popular among certain anti-Trump writers of an optimistic bent. His response draws on the political thought of John Dewey, who warned against confusing healthy politics with the “fulfillment of prescriptions laid down in a constitution” and the “observance of formulae that have become ritualistic.” “For Dewey,” writes Rogers, “democracy’s survival depends on a set of habits and dispositions—in short, a culture—to sustain it.” On this view, the breakdown of democratic culture puts the system in mortal peril: “When Dewey warns us that democratic conditions don’t automatically maintain themselves, and that the mere existence of a constitution does not safeguard democracy, he is dispelling the illusion that the United States is immune to the darkness of twentieth-century totalitarianism.” What Rogers is saying, in effect, is that we may well turn out to be unlucky enough to witness “our institutions will save us!” become the mordant civic equivalent of “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”

One virtue of Rogers’s essay is the clarity with which he describes frightening cultural breakdowns that have already become part of daily life. Consider:

Nathan Pippenger is a contributing editor at Democracy.

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Flowers and Zeese | US Democracy Crisis Creates Illegitimate Political System, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance  /  Rise Up Times

Photo: From Alamy

  • The media problem should not be underestimated. As John Stauber points out “We are completely enveloped by the corporate propaganda system from the moment of our birth on, and it allows the oligarchy to control our minds and lives from cradle to grave, in seamless invisible fashion, via marketing, advertising and public relations, reinforced by the news media.  Few are able to admit and see this . . .”
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  • Related: Democracy Is What We Make of It. grow the movement! Share this story with your friends.