The Intelligence Squared debate “That democracy is not for everyone”

While I only saw the last three speakers on the BBC on the Intellgence Squared debate “That democracy is not for everyone”, I enjoyed those speakers and was really surprised by some of the comments from the audience.

More than half the audience agreed with the debate proposition before the debate, and about a third still agreed with it after the debate. Audience members’ comments at the end of the debate mostly agreed with the proposition on the basis that democracy doesn’t work or is pretty awful in how it functions.

However, as Dr Michael Wesley of the Lowy Institute (a speaker against the proposition) responded, the key point is that democracy allows a population to sack a government, not that democracy functions optimally. This is the old trap of not taking the good to be the opposite of the perfect, which many audience members appeared to take. It wasn’t clear which country, region or people audience members thought that democracy was not suitable for – none was ever specified.

Improving the way democracies work is a different and entirely legitimate point – but shouldn’t be confused with democracy itself.

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