How Liberal Democracy Is Bullshit

Terracotta bowl for mixing wine and water. 410–400 B.C. Obverse, bull being sacrificed

Onthe road from Athens, democracy fell off the oxcart. What we have left is just a pile of bullshit.

In Athenian democracy, if you were a rich dude from the right family, you could walk over to ‘Parliament’ and just sit there and rule. When it came time to fill important jobs, you usually put your own name in the box, a process called sortition. Citizenship was certainly a violently restricted category, but once you were in the club, you had real power.

Today citizenship is still violently restricted but almost completely powerless. Citizens get teargassed if we try to enter Parliament. We get ‘indirect’ democracy, which is a fancy way of saying not at all. Instead of actually ruling ourselves, we anoint ruling elites in regular bribery festivals called ‘elections’.

Instead of choosing policies ourselves, instead of holding actual power, ordinary people literally just pick colors. Red or blue. Green or maroon. And we call this democracy. The Greeks would laugh at our pompous delusions. It’s just choose-your-own-oligarch.

We justify representative democracy by saying we need to select the best, most educated, and most experienced people to lead us, but please just look at who’s leading us, and where we’re going. As Donald Trump said, we’re not sending our best. Electoral democracy is a system that seems to empower the worst. We’ve reproduced an often hereditary caste of rich assholes.

At least the Greeks were honest about who they considered citizens. Today we call more people citizens, but are still ruled by a few.