Like most words for powerful ideas, “democracy,” is a bit ambiguous, a bit blurry around the edges; the word itself is a contested item in our democracy and others. It would help if we have a preliminary definition. I like Lincoln’s. “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” But now we have to ask what that means. Here’s my take on it.
What is it
Liberal democracy has its problems, including the fact that in trying to build consensus, it often ends up oppressing minorities or those who dissent. Radical democracy, on the other hand, tries to build consensus around difference, and challenge oppressive power relationships. But what are the risks of radical democracy? Is it really possible to have a democratic nation state without social conformity? How do we ensure both freedom and equality for all citizens in a society? And how does the anti-colonial tradition help us rethink what a modern democracy might be like? John and Ken join the struggle with Stanford historian Aishwary Kumar, author of Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy, in a program recorded live at Stage Werx Theatre in San Francisco.