/‘What Is Democracy?’ Review: Going Back to Greece, Documentary Asks Who Rules

‘What Is Democracy?’ Review: Going Back to Greece, Documentary Asks Who Rules

An all-nighter spent skimming Plato’s “Republic” could be a much less hurried endeavor than “What Is Democracy?,” a vastly bold documentary from the Canadian director Astra Taylor (“Zizek!”). Like democracy itself, the film assumes such a broad mandate and has such noble intentions that indicating its shortcomings appears virtually irrelevant.

The overarching idea right here is to discover the philosophical underpinnings of democracy by speaking with students and visiting the present-day websites of Plato’s Academy and the Agora in Athens. Using quotations from “The Republic” as glue, Taylor travels elsewhere and finds imperfections within the democratic course of.

In the United States, Cornel West factors out cases when majority rule hasn’t all the time been fascinating, noting that the Emancipation Proclamation and Brown v. Board of Education each arrived by fiat. Many of the movie’s most stinging moments cope with the diploma to which true democracy has hardly ever if ever existed for African-Americans.

And within the birthplace of democracy, Taylor traces how the debt disaster put Greece in a bind between the nationwide will and the meta-democracy of the European Union, which itself, the film suggests, was beholden to the decidedly undemocratic whims of finance.

Source link Nytimes.com

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