When I began to study democracy over a dozen years ago, few of the so-called cultural elite were in a rush to argue against it as a form of government. After all, practising democracy was what made them the ‘goodies’. Yes, they may have made a lot of mistakes, they may have lied once or twice, but when the other options were dictatorship and Communism, all they had to say was the magic word ‘democracy’ and the grumbling over these indiscretions would quickly subside. Not only did the elite at this time not question the value of democracy — they actively promoted it as the self-evident, one, true path. It was seen as the end of history. The very word possessed such talismanic power that you could even get away with attacking whole countries and killing all kinds of people just so the ones who survived could have democracy.
Then these gatekeepers of good manners lost a referendum (Brexit) and an election (Trump) and decided that democracy was totally passé. The volte-face they performed was rather breathtaking in its coordination, like a little shoal of well-disciplined fish avoiding troubled waters with mindless accuracy.
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