rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

What is democracy? Astra Taylor doesn't have the answer

To live in a world where the power of the people rules supreme is a utopian goal that's increasingly difficult to achieve in a world ruled by undemocratic, greedy oligarchs.

What is Democracy? That’s the question Canadian director Astra Taylor sets out to answer in her film of the same name that makes its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 11.

Taylor takes the viewer on a revolutionary journey from the birth of the idea in ancient Athens, to the rise of capitalism in medieval Italy, through modern-day Greece as the nation deals with financial collapse and an escalating refugee crisis, and finally, to the United States, with its history of racism and growing income inequality.

And yet, the precarious experiment that is democracy continues in spite of a world order where women and people of colour still fight for representation, and where inequality, xenophobia, education, and globalization are encouraged in the name of profit and avarice.

Democracy ebbs and flows, and Taylor shows us that while theoretical breakthroughs and collective action can lead to real change, any progress made in the name of equality is also easily taken away. Taylor's interviews also remind us that even majority rule does not ensure protection of basic human rights leaving us to ask what comes next when neither education nor the vote is the key to real freedom and equality?

What is Democracy? brings together the ideas of celebrated theorists Silvia Federici, Cornel West, Wendy Brown, and Angela Davis and amplifies their truths with the lived experience of trauma surgeons, activists, undocumented factory workers, asylum seekers, and former prime ministers.

Instead of providing easy answers, What Is Democracy? reminds us that wrestling with ideas and concepts is central to the ongoing struggle to rule ourselves. It forces us to ask what it really means for people to rule themselves. Then, it challenges us to consider whether that is something we even want. Given todays chaotic world, the answer must be an overwhelming "yes!" if we hope to survive.

If you're in Toronto, you can catch the premier of What is Democracy?  (107 minutes) on September 11 at 2:45 p.m, at Scotiabank 3, or on September 13 at 3:15 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Image: BlazL/Flickr

Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.