δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos 'people' and kratos 'rule

The purpose of this notebook is to study the history of democracy with a focus on ancient Greece and the United States, and learn whatever lesson there is to learn, if any. The topic of democracy is paramount in politics, because it takes precedence over almost every other concept in the sense that it can be used to justify many measures, such as progressive taxation.

Demcracy as a deliberation mechanism for Collective Cognition, and an efficient way for generating good ideas.

Democracy: nuts and bolts

How it has been and is implemented in practice. What are the pros and cons?

Can we make an argument in favor of democracies that is not a moral argument?

Maybe is it the most efficient way of governing people (in what sense?), to use its human resources. Maybe it gives a way for the most powerful to solve their conflicts without violence? Something else?

Lasch in The Revolt of the Elite makes the case that democracy is the most educational form of government, and agrees with Hannah Arendt that it precedes equality: it is a way to reach equality.

[T]he enlightment got it backward. It is citizenship that confers equality, not equality that creates a right to citizenship.

What makes for a thriving democracy?

What threatens democracy?

Are western democracies, democracies?



  • Elizabeth Anderson, Private government: how employers rule our lives (and why we don't talk about it)
  • Hélène Landemore, Open democracy (2020)
  • William Nelson, On justifying democracy (2012)
  • Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution
  • Josiah Ober
    • Mass and elite in democratic Greece (1991)
    • Democracy and Knowledge (2008)
    • The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece (2015)
  • Moses I. Finley, Democracy Ancient and Modern (2018)
  • Loren J. Samons, What's wrong ith democracy? (2004)
  • Thomas Seeley, Honeybee democracy (2010)
  • Alexis de Tocqueville, De la démocratie en Amérique (1845)
  • Daniel W. Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America (2007)
  • Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America (2006)
  • Frank M. Bryan, Real democracy - The New England Town Meeting (2003)
  • Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy (2021)
  • Sheldon S. Wolln, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (2017)
  • Robet A. Dahl, Democracy and its critics (1991)
  • Bryan Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter – Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (2008)
  • Steven Levitsky, How democracies die (2019)
  • Jason Brennan, Against democracy (2016)
  • Robert Putnam, Bowling alone (2000)
  • Christopher Lasch, The revolt of elites & Betrayal of Democracy (1997)
  • Charles Murray, Coming Apart (2012)
  • Christopher H. Achen & Larry M. Bartels, Democracy for the realists: Why elections do not produce responsive governments (2016)
  • Matt Grossmann, Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy since 1945 (2014)

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