"What people want"?

Carl Remick cremick at rlmnet.com
Thu Feb 18 06:31:56 PST 1999

Re Josh's: "Actually, that line is not inaccurate--except that 'properly functioning democaracy' elides the whole argument of the book, which is that a properly functioning democracy is a much more complicated thing than it's made out to be."

As I thought more about NY Observer reviewer Adam Liptak's take on Thomas Geoghegan's The Secret Lives of Citizens, it seemed preposterous in one way, in particular. To re-cite the Liptak quote I posted yesterday: "Mr. Geoghegan believes that in a properly operating democracy working people and their sympathizers would vote for better wages. This seems wrong as theory and wrong as a description of what people, even working people, want. They apparently want freedom, even at terrible social cost, even at their own expense."

The contention that Americans "apparently want freedom" is embedded in irony six feet thick. Consider, for instance, Alexander Cockburn's comment (in the current NY Press, concerning Kenneth Starr & Co.) about the rise of the "proscecutorial state" in the USA: "Judge Richard Posner said in 1995 that the U.S. 'criminalizes more conduct than most, many any, non-Islamic nations.'"

Carl Remick

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