Faith in Democracy

by Fabrizio Elefante

"In all regimes, masses, which are the register of indistinction, tend to seek the protection of a structure that is totalitarian, recognizable, relieved of responsibilities, and reassuring."

Words, unlike numbers, are not immutable. Two plus two will always equal four, but the meaning, or at least the understanding of the meaning of any given word can alter over time. The term "democracy," for example, meant one thing to the inhabitants of the ancient Greek city states yet means something far removed in modern times from its original intent. The author is a great proponent of this political concept, but he feels that how it is interpreted and applied today fails to reach its truest expression.

In his book, Elefante argues that much of what hinders democracy from functioning correctly is how those who participate in the process learn about the issues. The author places the blame on the media, the university systems, commercialism, populism, etc. for the general public being fed a diet of skewed facts, rendering it incapable of making informed decisions. With a wit as sharp at times as that of Jonathan Swift, Elefante despairs over the results this strangulation of the intellect has had on society with acerbic statements such as "Europeans are too satisfied and well fed to feel like making any criticisms." He also goes as far as to make proposals that will seem radical to many such as reforming universal suffrage so that only those who are adequately informed on the issues would be allowed to vote.

Elefante's book is well-written but may come across as a bit erudite for the average reader. However, his bravery in criticizing what has become an almost sacrosanct element of Western governments and his thought-provoking ideas make this passionate diatribe worth reading.

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