Response to Costica Bradatan's article, “Democracy is for the Gods”
To Costica Bradatan,
“Democracy is for the Gods” is dangerously misleading. Democracy, understood as an ever-evolving practice, is the only social form able to meet the deepest human needs beyond the physical: Our need for power (having a “say”), meaning, and connection in community.
Yet, Costica Bradatan claims democracy is unnatural, painting humans as essentially cutthroat and thus no different from “the animal realm.” He ignores anthropologist's findings that we are in fact the most social species, evolving to our dominant role in large measure because of our especially evolved capacities for cooperation, empathy, fairness.
We have what it takes. However, to continue the journey of democracy requires using our big brains and acknowledging that we humans—virtually all of us—evolved with both positive as well as evil capacities (especially for “othering”). What shows up depends on the social conditions we ourselves create.
So we can’t blame human nature.
And, what brings out the best in us? History reveals at least three conditions: a wide and fluid dispersion of power, transparency, and a culture of mutual accountability (in contrast to today’s blaming)—in other words, democracy.
So why is our democracy in such trouble today?
One, we’ve narrowed the three conditions to apply uniquely in the political realm—of course, still far from realization—when they apply to economic and social life as well. One result? Today, 80 percent of Americans together must make do with less total wealth than that held by the richest 1 percent, a concentration of power undermining well-being and distorting our political decision making
Two, many Americans swallow Bradatan’s portrayal of democracy as a “frigid affair” of “dull responsibilities” that can’t compete with authoritarian fervor. So wrong. Tens of millions of Americans in the growing Democracy Movement are fighting for essential reforms, from voting rights to gerrymandering and more. And in the process, they’re feeding themselves, experiencing the three essentials for human thriving—power, meaning, and connection.
What could be more thrilling?
Frances Moore Lappé