Democ­racy de­fined by peo­ple

The Georgia Straight - - Movie Reviews -

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!’ ”

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