Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The New Yorker Magazine Argues Against Democracy

The New Yorker Magazine Argues Against Democracy

by Stephen Lendman

The New Yorker is an establishment publication, giving readers commentaries, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry since February 1925 when a newsstand issue cost 15 cents. Today it’s $3.95.

It’s November 7 issue argues against democracy, asking “(i)f most voters are uninformed, who should make decisions about the public’s welfare?”

The right issues weren’t addressed. Public welfare is eroding under neoliberal harshness conditions - heading for elimination altogether. US schools and major media don’t do their jobs responsibly. 

America was created from exception to be run of, by and for its “rich, well-born and able,” as President John Adams once said.

How can a system exclusively serving its privileged class be called democratic? How can a one-party state be fair and equitable - duopoly power with two wings, each largely replicating the other?

How when voters have no say whatever, their views and welfare entirely ignored, powerful interests deciding everything?

What better example than this year’s farcical presidential race - pitting a billionaire racist against a she-devil war goddess, racketeer, perjurer. Trump’s most redeeming feature is he’s not Hillary.

According to The New Yorker, most voters can’t name the three branches of government. Less than one-fourth know the names of their senators. Only half know states have two. 

Long ago, I attended inner city Boston public schools with teachers who taught, including a wonderful class teaching how constitutional government in America works.

Today public education is increasingly commoditized. It’s long on testing and market-based reforms, short on real achievement.

It’s built around rote learning, standardized tests, requiring teaching to the test instead of preparing children and adolescents for college or their endeavor of choice after high school - the way it was long ago for me.

When Churchill called democracy “the worst form of government except” for all other forms of rule, he couldn’t have imagined the deplorable state of Britain and America today - waging endless wars of aggression, force-feeding austerity, destroying social justice, enforcing police state harshness on nonbelievers, and keeping its huddled masses exploited, persecuted and ignorant, letting monied interests profit at their expense.

The New Yorker cited political philosopher Jason Brennan, arguing for limiting or denying political power allowed the “irrational…ignorant…incompetent” public - in his new book, titled “Against Democracy.”

To him, our faith in the ennobling power of political debate is no more well grounded than the supposition that college fraternities build character,” said The New Yorker.

He believes it’s best for voters ignorant about politics and issues to stay home on election day. He divides the electorate into three categories - hobbits, hooligans and vulcans.

Hobbits have little political knowledge and little interest in politics, he says. Hooligans know more than hobbits, but are highly biased, lacking social scientific sophistication.

Vulcans combine extensive knowledge and analytical sophistication with open-mindedness (sic) - comprising a tiny proportion of the electorate.

So let them rule, Brennan argues, denying hobbits and hooligans democratic rights. Or limit voting rights to individuals able to pass a basis test of political knowledge. 

Perhaps he favors rescinding voting and civil rights legislation, substituting epistocracy for democracy - “rule of the knowers.” How to do it and public reaction remain important unknowns - the latter the stuff revolutions are made of when anger boils over.

Was The New Yorker article pro-Hillary? It mentions the current US presidential race, saying nothing about her deplorable agenda, calling Trump “the most reckless demagogue in living memory…”

It cited political scientist Scott Althaus, arguing that politically knowledgeable voters would be less eager to go to war, less punitive about crime, more socially tolerant, more opposed to big government running their lives, and less willing to accept higher taxes to further an agenda not serving their interests.

Democracy is the rarest form of governance, entirely absent in America and other Western societies - what The New Yorker and Jason Brennan failed to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 


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