Anne Applebaum doesn’t know what democracy is

Love that special Applebaumian brand of conventionality bearing itself as contrarianism? Has Slate got a column up for you!

Featuring smug  mockery of OWS’ supposed “failure to produce sound legislative proposals” and “above all” concern trolling over what she claims has been their “refusal to engage with existing democratic institutions.”

One might ask, what is democracy to Applebaum? And she’s happy to tell you:

 In New York, marchers chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” but, actually, this isn’t what democracy looks like. This is what freedom of speech looks like. Democracy looks a lot more boring. Democracy requires institutions, elections, political parties, rules, laws, a judiciary, and many unglamorous, time-consuming activities, none of which are nearly as much fun as camping out in front of St. Paul’s cathedral or chanting slogans on the Rue St. Martin in Paris.


How about acknowledging that democracy, to legitimate itself as such, requires a vital and engaged public sphere, something sustained by its own set of institutions that have been comprehensively undermined (links just an e.g.) over the past thirty years by the private interests of a plutocratic class.

How about acknowledging that the democratic institutions you list — especially the political parties, the judiciary, and the laws they’ve crafted/upheld — rely for their legitimacy on the perception that they’ve not been captured by fundamentally anti-democratic interests (for example, those who profit from the prison, fossil fuel, financial and defense industries).

How about acknowledging that the movement IS engaging with plenty of “exisiting democratic institutions,” notably the press, and via the press, elected officials whose ears they’re explicitly trying to draw away from their devoted attention to the whispers of lobbyists.

I could go on, but then it’s not like you’re genuinely stupid enough not to know exactly what you’ve failed to acknowledge. Or maybe you are. At least that would have the compensatory benefit of meaning you might not be quite so dishonest.

I will say this: you know what supposedly “democratic activity” sounds more “fun” than bumming it in the October cold? Lobbyist cocktails. Also…