Democracy: Theirs & Ours
The term democracy is frequently invoked perhaps never more so than after the January 6th assault on the Capitol which was almost unanimously described as an attack on democracy. The Ancient Greeks coined the term, demos is people and kratia is power or rule. So ideally, rule of the people. The U.S. is the champion of democracy. But who benefits from a system created by a handful of privileged property and slave-owning white men more than two centuries ago? Concentrated power and wealth undermine and corrode democracy. Never before has there been such inequality as we see today. Even before the pandemic concentrations of income and wealth were astronomical, now it’s much, much worse. We are veering away from democracy toward oligarchy, rule of the few. What are the alternatives?
Angela Davis is one of the iconic figures of this era. Acquitted on conspiracy charges in 1970, after one of the most famous trials in U.S. history, she went on to become an internationally renowned writer, scholar, and lecturer. She is professor emerita at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has been at the forefront of the movement focusing on the prison industrial complex and its intersection with race, class and gender. She is the author of many books including Women, Race and Class, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Abolition Democracy, and Freedom is a Constant Struggle.
Astra Taylor is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. She is the director of What is Democracy? She is co-founder of the Debt Collective, a union for debtors, and contributed the foreword to the group’s book, Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition. She is the author of Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, the American Book Award winning The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age and Remake the World.