What’s at stake right now is whether there is going to be anything at all to politics beyond backroom deals among oligarchs. Nobody is naive here. I’m not running a blog for naive, wide-eyed little bunnies. Everybody here knows that backroom deals are an unavoidable feature of politics in all societies called democratic. Such deals are not necessary in totalitarian regimes because there is no need to hide in the backroom, of course.
But there has always been something beside backroom dealing. The will of the people has never been an entirely empty sound. There have been efforts, struggles, victories and achievements, and they – as opposed to the formality of holding elections – are what constitute a democracy. Today everybody has elections, so what? Does Russia have a democracy just because there are all formal characteristics of one? The answer is obvious.
When theorists of neoliberalism say that the greatest danger of neoliberalism is that it destroys democracy, they don’t mean that elections will be canceled. The danger is that demos – meaning people, us, all of us – will step out of the political process. And the saddest, saddest thing is that they won’t do it saying, “Hey, I just don’t give a toss. All I care about is making money, spending money, and having fun.” Oh no, they’ll disengage by believing they are the most engaged people in history.