Can Democracy Work

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Politics

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Can Democracy Work
Fall 2024
Taught By: James E Miller
Section: AX

CRN: 17135

Credits: 4

A great democratic revolution is going on amongst us,” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835, in the aftermath of its War of Independence and the French Revolutions. And with twists and turns, and despite some spectacular setbacks, the “great democratic revolution” that Tocqueville described has indeed continued, sometimes flaring up with disturbing results, throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In a striking contrast to the low regard in which democracy was held throughout most of the rest of recorded human history, virtually every existing political regime today claims to embody some form of democracy. America of course fancies itself the modern home of democracy. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin and his supporters have declared Russia to be a “sovereign democracy.” Even North Korea calls itself a “Democratic People’s Republic.” What is at stake in these contradictory political developments? What, if anything, do modern representative democracies have in common with the dictatorial democracies of contemporary Communist regimes, or with such avowedly direct democratic movements as Occupy Wall Street, or Podemos in Spain? If both North Korea and the United States consider themselves democratic –and if liberals and conservatives, and socialists and communists, and nationalists and populists, and if American politicians of every stripe can all claim to embody the will of a people – then hasn’t the very idea of democracy become meaningless? Are more direct forms of popular political participation either feasible or desirable in today’s world? Can liberal representative democracies survive in the face of ongoing revolts against their various shortcomings? Or are our nominal democracies at growing risk of drifting towards illiberal and authoritarian forms of rule, duly proclaimed in the name of “the people”? These are some of the questions we will explore in this seminar.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Politics (POL)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2024 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2024 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.

Status: Open*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 10:50am EDT 5/26/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Friday
Times: 4:00pm - 6:40pm
Building: TBD
Room: TBD
Date Range: 8/26/2024 - 12/15/2024