A few days ago, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich emailed me a Chris Hedges essay entitled: “How Democracy Dies: A Lesson from the Master,” which relies on Aristophanes’s works as an example of how society decays from within by corruption, greed, arrogance, distortion of ideals designed to promote the welfare of all people, and of course perpetual militarism that debilitates society and ultimately contributes to its demise. After reading the article, I surfed the Web for stories with the titles “who threatens US democracy” and “threats to US democracy,” and discovered that many essays (more than 20 million hits) include the following ten categories:
2. government bailout of banks and corporations;
3. the Supreme Court that is out of touch with the American people;
4. economic weakness and economic inequality;
5. the World Trade Organization and the UN;
6. Corporate power, corporate media, corporate campaign contributions;
7. Religious extremism of all types, Islamophobia, and Terrorism;
8. political (voter) ignorance, and interest groups;
9. the Internet;
10. narcotics trade and crime.
One very interesting article argues that the most basic threat to democracy is the human brain that “is predisposed to use information to confirm their existing beliefs, which makes democratic governance impossible.” If we accept that human nature as inherently atomistic and irrational without regard to others, assumptions that English philosopher Thomas Hobbes articulated in the Leviathan, then the human brain with its predisposition to the irrational and atomistic is indeed the obstacle to democracy.