The chaos of Trump and Brexit shows that democracy is not simply majority rule

Anger at neoliberalism’s broken promises has morphed on both sides of the Atlantic into vilification of immigrants and, in the hands of Donald Trump, into an almost daily display of hatred towards the poor. In both the US and UK, political leaders have emerged to scapegoat minorities as the cause of society’s ills and legitimise their truncated vision of democracy as majority rule as the solution.

This article on Euronews Vision warns that when, as Oscar Wilde warned, democracy comes to mean the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people, the worst is yet to come.

 

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Fire and fury: the psychodrama of a very stable genius

This article first appeared on Open Democracy Transformation

The release of Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury has heightened concerns about Donald Trump’s mental fitness for office. In her review of the book for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin says that it shows Trump to be “an unhinged man-child utterly lacking in the skill needed to be president”—despite Trump’s assertion that in fact he’s a “very stable genius.”

In the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland writes that Wolff’s revelations “prove—yet again—what a vile, narcissistic and dangerous man we have in the Oval Office.” And in the New Yorker, Masha Gessen, warns that Trump’s White House is “waging a daily assault on the public’s sense of sanity, decency, and cohesion. It makes us feel crazy.”

Is there any way to get beneath the daily assault on our sanity and try to understand what might be driving the chaos of the Trump Presidency? A good place to start is with the word that many say best sums up the man, which is narcissismContinue reading

The Solution to Democracy’s Crisis is More Democracy

A version of this article appears in the May edition of Village magazine.

Whatever else it is, Trump’s chaotic post-truth presidency is a gift for psychologists. Under their code of ethics, psychologists are not allowed to make pronouncements about the mental health of public figures. Despite this rule, thousands of psychotherapists in the U.S. have come together in Citizen Therapists Against Trumpism to warn about Trump’s dubious mental health. Psychology professors from top U.S. universities have also broken ranks to voice their clinical opinion that Trump suffers from a dangerous mental disorder.    Continue reading

“I can’t forget the looks on faces of people who’ve lost hope… you have to give people hope.” Harvey Milk

Harvey Milk, gay activist and human rights leader, was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the world. The transformation of many societies in their attitudes not only to gay people, but to women, to people of different race, to people with disabilities, have all come about mainly through civic activism and democratic debate. Democracy has been a pathway to freedom for women and minorities around the world. In the extracts from his speech given after his election Harvey Milk reminds us that democracy is, ultimately, about hope.   Continue reading

“There is no other way except by understanding and putting into practice every human right for all mankind…” Shirin Ebadi

On each of the days leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, disorderedworld is posting the words of five icons of democracy to remind us of what democracy really means, and inspire us to stand in resolute opposition to the divisive path along which Trump is leading the world. Today Iranian Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi speaks of the vital importance of democracy, human rights and women’s equality for people of the Islamic world. Continue reading

Democracy as a Defence against Tyranny

The foundations of our modern system of democracy were first put in place in ancient Athens. Athenian society was never fully democratic in the way that we would understand a democratic society today. Slavery remained widespread, women were never allowed to participate in political affairs, and the elite who were eligible to take part in the democratic decision-making processes of the state never made up more than ten percent of the entire population. Despite these shortcomings, the Athenians established some of the fundamental principles of democratic government.   Continue reading

Psychopaths and the Rule of Law

Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.

                                            John Locke

The spread of democracy has been one of the most profound political changes in human history, and provides an indispensable defence against those who abuse power by oppressing others. But as many pseudo-democracies attest, elections on their own provide only a weak and often impotent defence. In many countries today that are deemed to be democratic, elections are simply a sham used by leaders to legitimise autocratic rule. The fundamental pillar upon which democracy must rest, and without which it becomes a mockery of itself, is the rule of law.    Continue reading