Democ­racy’s mem­ory gap

The Guardian Weekly - - Reply -

The fa­mous quote by Ge­orge San­tayana, “Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are con­demned to re­peat it,” is echoed by Yascha Mounk in his fea­ture on the rise of pop­ulism and why “democ­racy must re­build its moral foun­da­tions” (6 April). Mounk writes, “One pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion for why young peo­ple are dis­en­chanted with democ­racy is that they have lit­tle con­cep­tion of what it would mean to live in a dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.”

To­day most of the mil­lions who fought against fas­cism in the sec­ond world war have since passed on, their chil­dren are in their 70s and 80s, and Re­mem­brance Day is held only once a year. Con­fronted by this huge, and ul­ti­mately tragic, mem­ory gap, Mounk sug­gests that “civic ed­u­ca­tion … should spend more time point­ing out that ide­o­log­i­cal al­ter­na­tives to lib­eral democ­racy, from fas­cism to com­mu­nism, and from au­toc­racy to theoc­racy, re­main as re­pel­lent to­day as they have been in the past”. Richard Or­lando West­mount, Que­bec, Canada

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