Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Democracy Isn't a Riot
The authoritarian right is wrong to denigrate democracy as mob rule but the anti-authoritarian left is just as wrong to celebrate democracy in mob insurrection. Every insurrection is a promise but no insurrection is the fulfillment of the promise. Venting grievance is just another form of suffering grievance -- it can be moralizing the way a dancefloor or a public hanging can be, but it isn't ethical, and politics that are moral (we-expressive) but not ethical (soliciting formal-universal assent) are nothing to be particularly happy about if your politics are supposed to be democratic. When the street educates grievance with shared and proffered narratives, when the street agitates for an end to grievances in voiced positions with constituencies, when the street organizes councils or other bodies out of which leaders they respect start making demands equal to these grievances, then, and only then, do I stop reserving judgment. Don't mistake what I am saying as the insistence we look only to political parties or professional politicians as these usually stifle and domesticate the promise in such outbreaks of history as this -- but to look for educational and organizational impulses arising from the street, to discern the real promise of legible voices and legitimate leaders emerging out of those movements.