What Is Democracy? | Chicago Reader

What Is Democracy?

For those itching to take a political philosophy class or wishing they’d paid more attention in college, this documentary is a potent introductory course. Canadian-American filmmaker Astra Taylor (Examined Life) traces the idea of democracy back to its roots in ancient Greece and Plato’s Republic, visiting the philosopher's strongholds in Athens and deftly weaving Greece’s ongoing debt crisis into her scrutiny of a corruptible system. Taylor speaks with public figures, scholars, and a wide range of citizens in several countries about their views of democracy and its fault lines, eliciting passionate commentary from all parties. Though her subject would be difficult to unknot even as a docuseries, what Taylor achieves with her feature is commendable. She presents an inclusive and necessary debate, asking whether democracy today really is of, by, and for the people, and if it ever was.

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