How Modern Democracy Is Tyranny

The oldest trick in democracy is deciding that certain people aren't people at all

Bullies, by Todd James

Imagine a playground. Some bullies walk in, beat-up the other kids and take over. They kick out the kids that were there, stealing their stuff. Any new kids get trapped under the jungle gym, forced to do their bidding, to join the cool kids. Anyone that resists gets a bloody nose for not 'playing by the rules'.

Now wake up. This is where you live. This is what we call modern democracy.


I'll start with the worst democracy in the world, because it's the most obvious. Here's Hagai El-Ad describing Israel:

It is a commonly accepted falsehood that Israel is a “Jewish and democratic” state. In fact, it is neither: It is a binational, inherently undemocratic entity governed through an apartheid regime. The fragmentation of Palestinians may serve to obfuscate the truth, but how can a reality of demographic parity — some 7 million Jews, some 7 million Palestinians — be considered only “Jewish”? And when most of those Palestinians are kept disenfranchised, how can it be considered “democratic”? - Washington Post

To return to our playground metaphor, Zionists first walked in and ethnically cleansed over 700,000 people in 1948. Taking over their farms, their land, their homes. The refugees were herded into open-air prisons, where Israeli's control their movement and kill or imprision them at will. A few live as second-class citizens, the garnish on an apartheid plate. If anyone rebels, everyone gets bombed.

El-Ad rightly asks is this a democracy at all, but the sad answer is historically, yes. Israeli apartheid is more than the settler-colonial template; it goes back to the idea of democracy itself.


In Athens 2,500 years ago the compound word dēmokratiā was recorded, meaning people (dēmos) rule (kratos). They also recorded the oldest trick in the book. Call it a democracy, but violently limit who gets to play.