What is democracy?

The film “What is Democracy” stages an interesting debate about democracy. The author Astra Taylor expands her credibility by questioning the people across the globe about their understanding of democracy. She interviews ordinary people, children, doctors, philosophers, and casual workers on their take on the issue of democracy. The film emphasizes that the gap between the rich and the poor is fundamental in undermining the concept of democracy. Justice cannot prevail where material possession exists. Human nature propels the rich to enhance their wealth while the unprivileged will tirelessly seek to explore and find alternatives to become wealthier. People are likely to follow any direction that guarantees richness. Consequently, civil wars and unrest occur between the high and low classes in the plight of material satisfaction. Modern society is disjointed due to economic inequality and the pursuit of power in the form of wealth. The corrupt leadership of today is courtesy of greed for power. Leaders take offices without a moral compulsion to the people’s duty but with the desire to generate profits from governance (Taylor, 2018).

The film also stresses that inevitable human desire for power, greed, and selfishness creates division in society. Plato’s argument that efforts of seeking power results in political anguish is evident in the community. Slavery is an example of the misery that arose due to the desire for power. Influential people and landowners inflicted untold suffering on slaves by inciting overseers of potential rebellion from the black community. The overseers treated slaves ruthlessly courtesy of spirit cultivated by the leaders at the top. Meanwhile, the rich indulged in luxurious endeavors as the African Americans and the white people elevated their hatred. The analogy of slavery explains the loss of sensation in a democratic community. People blindly take the word from leaders with selfish ambitions and, therefore, do not engage in democratic exercises. The quest for appealing to material satisfaction is the root of all evil in society. Although capitalism encourages responsibility and progress, an excessive obligation to wealth shifts human beings’ divine nature. The film also highlights the evolution of slavery. African Americans have lost democracy due to the new conditions of slavery. For instance, the police frequently murder black people and threaten Protestants with guns while expressing their human rights. The victims of racial assault live in fear of existence, stigmatization, isolation, and hope deprivation.

Moreover, the movie looks at the erosion of self-governance. The film insists that the perception of democracy is an illusion because we cannot do what we want. The public cannot deliberately decide to take a particular path in life due to an external force. An individual cannot take leisure or choose a self-fulfilling career. If people cannot willingly decide how they want to conduct themselves, then democracy is lost—other than corporations or political figures, the world is governed by economic forces. People analyze every situation by looking at monetary value or reward at the end. Likewise, smaller countries have no share of democracy on account of market demands. Many less developed countries gravely suffer on a democratic basis on account of huge debts. Regardless of how hard a country may desire to meet its needs, commitment to market superpowers compromises the attempts. Therefore, national democracy can be undermined by the conditions of loans laid by other countries. A country may not exercise or set its terms as it deems fit due to the market’s demands. Money trivializes individual democratic practices and compromises democracy at a national level—debts subject countries to economic crises and wars, leading to increased suffering and injustice.

Another special message the film conveys is about diversity. For the attainment of ultimate democracy, people need to change their perspective of belonging. The change on belonging outlook does not necessarily mean that people have to abandon their culture or identity but rather to value and appreciate people from a different culture. Capitalism has forged elaborate boundaries between races, cultures, and the privileged and underprivileged creating division in society. The division denies people the freedom to collaborate and exploit the treasures of the world. The author argues that for changes in a democracy, people need to be concerned with others’ welfare despite originality. Immigration policy is among the policies instituted by leaders that increase resentment towards the immigrants. Leaders make Americans associate immigrants with crime, theft, and economic crisis, nurturing an unjust belief. Although there could be genuine immigrants that seek development for their families, the rules deny them the opportunity to exercise freedom. Similarly, the film criticizes undemocratic acts by governments, such as closing boundaries or killing foreigners. The failure to appreciate people from different backgrounds cultivates biased attitudes in children and clarifies their feelings.

The film has transformed my perspective of democracy and shed a new understanding of the idea. Many countries in the world may claim to enjoy democracy yet, in the real sense, are deficient in the latter. Philosophers such as Plato had foreseen an impending threat to the possibility of enjoying democracy due to capitalism and corrupt leadership. Inherently human beings can exercise power over each other regardless of who is at the top or bottom (Macey, 2004). Anyone can take leadership positions, implement and execute policies, and run national affairs. However, divine power is a lot more complicated than people think. Effective leadership requires the application of power and wisdom for the prevalence of justice. If the desire for power is not adequately monitored and coached, evil virtues such as greed and selfishness can take over and create chaos in the world. Democracy cannot prevail where a gap between the rich and poor exist because either group will always try to improve their state. Money has corrupted leadership, relationships, and personal ambitions and has established a robust system of governance. Economic forces dictate what we do, how and why we engage in practices, and how we conduct ourselves. In my education field, I will advocate adopting pedagogies that prompt children to visualize the reality of the world and simultaneously provoke learners to apply virtues acquired in education in life.

The film relates to concepts learned in the course since it challenges the role of power in society. The theories I have learned in class emphasizes that ability should not create division in the world (Macey, 2004). Education should empower children with knowledge and truth about the standards of society. Poststructuralists argue that it is possible to engage learners in truthful pedagogy and shape an enhanced justice mentality. Disorganized thoughts in the community can be rectified if normalization in school settings is adopted. According to MacNaughton (2005), knowledge is inevitably biased and does not apply in every corner of the world. Consequently, incorporating truth in childhood education is essential in nurturing thoughts towards a just world. The film also emphasizes the need to cultivate, shape, and foster a positive mentality to enhance democracy. Democracy can be attained if the barrier to truth is eliminated, and power is exercised justly. The movie also suggests that every activity humans take is political and education that enlightens children and adults to apply democratic virtues in life is worth fighting.

The film equipped me with new skills in handling and understanding children. Children should be raised to believe they are equal in society. Racism and discriminatory attitudes can be contained if children are exposed to the consequences of discrimination and made to see how biased thoughts limit development. Apart from handing children with scientific knowledge, educationists need to deliver ethical information. In my education career, I plan to encourage children to cherish diversity and give humanity priority. Learners can easily respect human dignity if they are molded to believe so in schools (Dahlberg & Moss, 2005). The film also cautions techniques of instilling discipline in children. The failure of institutions to listen to students’ thought undermines the basics of democracy. Listening to children and addressing their grievances and perceptions mold a culture where people take responsibility for leadership. If children are made to resign to the school authority, they are likely to be powerless to the government in adulthood. Today people fail to vote or make democratic advances due to the belief that change is impossible. Threatening children also limits the efforts of advocating for a republic society. In my practice, with young children, I will also inform them about the dangers of wealth. Many people promise children that attaining good grades in school guarantees good jobs, stable families, good governments, and healthy relationships; that money is critical for happiness. However, teachers fail to inform children that overindulgence in wealth results in envy, depression, corruption, and wars. Incorporating a culture that attaches importance to self and national happiness is bound to break the barriers that cause division in society.

The film provokes significant questions and challenges the audience’s moral obligation to humanity. Democracy is just a word that appears in articles, but in reality, there is no democracy. People have different ideologies of democracy, but we have lost the authentic sense of the term in life. Do we live in a democratic world? Does democracy exist in modern society? Another interesting question that the film raises is about majority rule and democracy. Is the majority rule associated with democracy? If democracy is the people’s rule, does the portion that design laws represent the public? The movie also encourages countries to allow free movement of people from different cultures. The film also provokes the audience to be flexible in terms of culture to build a democratic universe. Philosophers have insisted that every human has an ethical responsibility towards humankind. Is it possible to foster a democratic society without setting boundaries for entitled people? Furthermore, democracy cannot be fully defined as freedom because freedom can be misused. Democracy encompasses justice and liberty. It is a practice that should be cultivated for a long time in childhood education and into adulthood. The ultimate question the film prompts is, What is democracy.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Dahlberg, G., & Moss, P. (2005). Ethics and politics in early childhood education. Psychology Press.

Macey, D. (2004). Michel Foucault. Reaktion Books.

MacNaughton, G. (2005). Doing Foucault in early childhood studies: Applying Poststructural ideas. Psychology Press.

Taylor, A. (Director). (2018). What is Democracy [Film]. National Film Board of Canada.

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