Video of the Week: ‘What Is Democracy?’ Review: Going Back to Greece, Documentary Asks Who RulesRoundup
tags: democracy, Video of the Week, documentary
An all-nighter spent skimming Plato’s “Republic” would be a less hurried undertaking than “What Is Democracy?,” a hugely ambitious documentary from the Canadian director Astra Taylor (“Zizek!”). Like democracy itself, the movie assumes such a broad mandate and has such noble intentions that indicating its shortcomings seems almost beside the point.
The overarching concept here is to explore the philosophical underpinnings of democracy by talking with scholars and visiting the present-day sites of Plato’s Academy and the Agora in Athens. Using quotations from “The Republic” as glue, Taylor travels elsewhere and finds imperfections in the democratic process.
In the United States, Cornel West points out instances when majority rule hasn’t always been desirable, noting that the Emancipation Proclamation and Brown v. Board of Education both arrived by fiat. Many of the film’s most stinging moments deal with the degree to which true democracy has rarely if ever existed for African-Americans.
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75