Discussions about democracy probably start in Athens about 2500 years ago. A truism is society is democratic to the extent that its citizens play a meaningful role in managing public affairs. Democracy is located within the capitalist economic system infamous for producing colossal inequality. There’s no level playing field, as great income and wealth translate into political power for the haves at the expense of the have nots. We have procedural democracy: elections, broadcast debates, primaries, etc. Citizens are largely marginalized, overwhelmed by big money and powerful lobbies. Look at the widespread demand to ban assault weapons of war or for universal single-payer health care or protecting the environment or affordable housing. People want those things but elites have a simple message. Vote. Then go home and leave everything to us. Actual democracy is hollowed out. A Davos-type class rules.
Michael Parenti is one of this country’s foremost independent political analysts. Cornel West calls him, “a towering prophetic voice.” He has taught at major colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is the author of numerous books including the classic Democracy for the Few, Power and the Powerless, The Face of Imperialism, and The Assassination of Julius Caesar.