• tomefries

Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss It When It's Gone by Astra Taylor

Updated: Feb 14, 2020

Summary: Democracy, the greatest form of government, doesn't truly exist. What does it even mean to be a democracy and how can we work towards it?

{Free book alert! I received this Advanced Readers Copy in return for an honest review.}

Review: Just like 328,330,000+ other humans, I live in America, a country that is equivalent to an insecure male who constantly brags about his size and abilities as though he's god's gift to the planet. One of our greatest successes is being the world leader in democracy, spreading it across the world like heroes. We bathe in freedom and get capitalist facials, while ignoring the overwhelming flood from pipes bursting of poverty, rising healthcare costs, gun violence, and more.

In Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss It When It's Gone, along with her documentary What is Democracy?, Taylor explores the past and present of democracy including its many contradictions. This book raises so many questions about where we are and where we could possibly go in the future. Starting at the introduction, I found that so many of my inner conflicts were validated. Even Taylor's story about being told "authoritatively" by several men that we live in a republic, not a democracy, is very similar to an experience I had. When I went on to clarify that it is, in fact, more resembling an oligarchy, something else Taylor validates, I was dismissed.

What is freedom? It is America's biggest brag, but freedom from what? For whom? If democracy is by the people, then who qualifies as the people? Taylor explores so many topics related to a democratic government including equality, gerrymandering, corporate rights, voting vs. lotteries, and more. She also makes it clear that there is no simple, definitive answer. Even when we look back at the lottery system of ancient Athens that gave equal access to government (at least for men), there now becomes the question of whether we truly want some people to be given office and decision-making powers? Also, are there times when certain freedoms should be constrained?

In a world that is becoming more and more divisive along political lines, is democracy doomed? Taylor remains hopeful, but critical which is the kind of voice we need. With government processes being sugar-coated and fake information being concocted on both sides to create confirmation bias, it becomes ever more important that we have discussions on these topics. We cannot allow ourselves to be complacent in a system that continuously works to keep the wealthy in power.

This was definitely a heavy book that will make you think, consider, and question. At times you may feel that it is hopeless, while other moments feeling the spark of optimism. It is not what I deem "brain candy", but it is an important read. I am anxious to see more of Taylor's work, including her documentary.


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