Democracy defined by people
corruption. The film avoids didacticism, but given our present condition of perpetual war and market as religion—voted for by a relatively infinitesimal number of Earth’s inhabitants—it comes as no surprise when Taylor remarks: “I think capitalism is the biggest threat to democracy right now.
“There was a time in the 20th century, it was a unique moment, when an enhancing nationalism and liberal democracy and social democracy, especially in Europe, sort of propelled economic growth, and democracy was the useful handmaiden at that point to the capitalist model,” she says. “Now we’ve entered a new phase.”
If that’s the macro view, shared by ? y people like West, What Is Democracy? a gives equal voice to some of the least r c o m enfranchised among us, whether it’s a traumatized Syrian refugee newly arrived in Greece or a classroom full of African-american youths grieving their n r i l o collapsing education system. a y
T f i l m a a k e r A s t r “Those kids really astounded me and left my sound recordist in tears,” Taylor reports. “For me, it’s like trying to challenge who’s an expert at democracy. Is it that liberal professor at Stanford who’s just obsessed with norms and constitutional theories, or is it this 13-year-old who’s in the system and sees the way it functions? I think the whole film is trying to honour expertise in the sense that there are academics in it while also challenging who counts as an expert.” Indeed, one of the film’s greatest moments of expertise is supplied by an eighth grader’s clear-eyed critique of education/work as control system. Her astonished classmates erupt into applause. You will too. “They’re not cynical yet, so they clap for her,” Taylor says, still moved by the spectacle. “And I’m like, ‘Okay, make her the president!’ ”