To us, democracy is not simply a banal amalgamation of procedures, an uncontroversial set of norms and rules that everyone can get behind. It is the quite radical idea that ordinary people — not experts, not elites, not their “betters” — can rule themselves. It is the word we use to describe the flattening of steep hierarchies, the shattering of structures that confer undue wealth and power and privilege.
When democracy is on the march, it lays in its path state despots and private autocrats. It rips decision-making power away from the corporate titan, wrests the billy club out of the beat cop’s hands, divests the domineering husband of his authority. It brings the imperial power to its knees and lifts up the colonial subject, the slave, the worker.