Democracy as compared with other ways of life is the sole way of living which believes wholeheartedly in the process of experience as end and as means; as that which is capable of generating the science which is the sole dependable authority for the direction of further experience and which releases emotions, needs and desires so as to call into being the things that have not existed in the past. For every way of life that fails in its democracy limits the contacts, the exchanges, the communications, the interactions by which experience is steadied while it is also enlarged and enriched. The task of this release and enrichment is one that has to be carried on day by day. Since it is one that can have no end till experience itself comes to an end, the task of democracy is forever that of creation of a freer and more humane experience in which all share and to which all contribute.
- John Dewey, "Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us"
Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruits in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between men, and their beliefs -- in religion, literature, colleges, and schools
- Walt Whitman (1871): "Democratic Vistas"
Since the time of the ancient Greeks a democracy has depended on its philosophers and creative artists. It can only flourish by continuous probing, prodding, and questioning of the social conditions under which man exists and tries to better himself.
- Uta Hagen (1991):
"A Challenge for the Actor"
Emanzipatorische Demokratie sieht die Notwendigkeit von Institutionen, der Anerkennung von Pluralität, von Streit und Konflikten. Außerdem ist Demokratie anstrengend: Menschen müssen sich informieren (und auch gut informieren können), um überhaupt über die Kompetenzen zur demokratischen Teilhabe zu verfügen; und sie müssen - ohne sich per se zu überfordern, denn dann wird Politik doch wieder weitgehend zur Profession Einzelner - angemessene Möglichkeiten der Partizipation haben. Das erfordert viel Aufwand und viel Kreativität.
- Alberto Acosta, Ulrich Brand (2018): "Radikale Alternativen"
Rather than championing democratic procedures as an end in themselves, let’s evaluate them according to the values that drew us to democracy in the first place: egalitarianism, inclusivity, the idea that each person should control her own destiny.
- CrimethInc. Collective (2017): “From Democracy to Freedom”
How you do it is very straightforward: you go out and do it. If you want a more free and democratic society, you go out and do it.
- Noam Chomsky: "On Democracy" (Interviewed by Tom Morello)
Para mí la democracia es un abuso de la estadística. Y además no creo que tenga ningún valor. ¿Usted cree que para resolver un problema matemático o estético hay que consultar a la mayoría de la gente? Yo diría que no; entonces ¿por qué suponer que la mayoría de la gente entiende de política? La verdad es que no entienden, y se dejan embaucar por una secta de sinvergüenzas, que por lo general son los políticos nacionales. Estos señores que van desparramando su retrato, haciendo promesas, a veces amenazas, sobornando, en suma. Para mí ser político es uno de los oficios más tristes del ser humano. Esto no lo digo contra ningún político en particular. Digo en general, que una persona que trate de hacerse popular a todos parece singularmente no tener vergüenza. El político en sí no me inspira ningún respeto. Como político.
- Jorge Luis Borges (1978) in an interview
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
- The Bible, Old testament, Judges 21:25 ESV
The foundation of democracy is faith in the capacities of human nature; faith in human intelligence, and in the power of pooled and cooperative experience
- John Dewey (1937): "Democracy and Educational Administration”
Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action. Among the virtues that matter are those traditionally considered feminine rather than masculine, more nerd than jock: listening, respect, patience, negotiation, strategic planning, storytelling. But we like our lone and exceptional heroes, and the drama of violence and virtue of muscle, or at least that’s what we get, over and over, and in the course of getting them we don’t get much of a picture of how change happens and what our role in it might be, or how ordinary people matter. “Unhappy the land that needs heroes” is a line of Bertold Brecht’s I’ve gone to dozens of times, but now I’m more inclined to think, pity the land that thinks it needs a hero, or doesn’t know it has lots and what they look like.
– Rebecca Solnit (2019): "When the Hero is the Problem"
The paradox of liberal democracy is that citizens are freer, but they
feel powerless (...). Democracy in Europe, which had long been an instrument for inclusion,
is now slowly being transformed into a tool for exclusion.
– Ivan Krastev (2017):
It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.
– Aung San Suu Kyi (1991):
"Freedom from Fear"