How Democracy Ends, Not With a Bang But With a Whimper

“In this fast-paced century, rife with technological innovation, we’ve grown accustomed to the impermanence of things. Whatever is here now will likely someday vanish, possibly sooner than we imagine. Movies and music that once played on our VCRs and stereos have given way to infinite choices in the cloud. Cash currency is fast becoming a thing of the past. Cars will soon be self-driving. Stores where you could touch and feel your purchases now lie empty as online shopping sucks up our retail attention.

“The ever-more-fleeting nature of our physical world has been propelled in the name of efficiency, access to ever more information, and improvement in the quality of life. Lately, however, a new form of impermanence has entered our American world, this time in the political realm, and it has arrived not gift-wrapped as progress but unpackaged as a profound setback for all to see. Longstanding democratic institutions, processes, and ideals are falling by the wayside at a daunting rate and what’s happening is often barely noticed or disparaged as nothing but a set of passing problems. Viewed as a whole, however, such changes suggest that we’re watching democracy disappear, bit by bit.” (Karen Greenberg in Tom

The conundrum:  Epicurus told us to ignore the political world.   One tries to, and this blog tries to  avoid party politics.  But how can one achieve, let alone maintain, ataraxia when the institutions and constitutional arrangements one took for granted and are there for our mutual benefit, are being casually overturned by people who have sworn to uphold them?  Soon it could be our ability to speak openly and publicly about our views.  Then we will ask one another, “What happened?”  The polis in the days of Epicurus was robust; ours are not .  We should be fearful indeed.


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