Democracy has stopped working. How can we improve this?

I don’t see much of a future for it when:

  1. Capitalism has created large scale institutionalised corruption in politics

  2. About half the population is uneducated and lacks any kind of critical thinking skills

So you basically end up with a small slice of educated people taking advantage of a large amount of less educated people, which invariably results in poorer societal outcomes.

Climate change is a perfect example of this.

I think I am becoming increasingly cynical in my old age (unfortunately).

How can this be improved?

Education only works when you properly fund it, but the underfunding in this area has been nudged by the institutionalised corruption in the public sphere. I see this all the time in the UK.

Show me evidence that democracy is working worse than it has in the past. I think this is a common lamentation that is just not true. I think people bitching about democracy is at an all time high, but I’m not convinced that means it’s not working and may even be an indication that it is working. IE most of the bitching is about individual self interests that the public has voted to not indulge.


Fully outlaw bribery in politics.

We’ve legalized bribery in politics so much that people don’t even recognize it as corruption anymore. We need to prohibit donations by businesses and to place hard limits on how much someone can donate to politicians and candidates.

Politicians should be accountable to constituents, not money.


We have far and away the most educated populace in history, so I don’t see this being the issue.


This is not correct because you are looking at an average.

We have a slice of very educated people and a large (and now critical) mass of poorly educated people.

Its that critical mass of poorly educated people that is the problem. You need to raise the average for that cohort of people or else democracy becomes largely pointless.

You are basically asking a large amount of people to vote for things they have no clue about.

1 Like

Show me some stats comparing now to some other functional time.


Have we ever not had this?

1 Like

According to this study it’s been a downward trend since 2012.

One thing that is different today is that we have a lot of dumb people who think they are smart because they watch cable news and YouTube.

Well, we had a feudal structure were the common folks were simply ignored.

I don’t think that works too well long-term. :slight_smile:

In the modern sense, the difference between the average and worst educated was largely kept in check by properly funding education, but that has been getting worse over the last 30 years.

The “gap” between average and worst has grown a lot while the top of the education distribution has taken off.

Thats the problem that I just don’t see a solution for. Too many people have a vested interest in keeping those folks uneducated in a “Democracy”.


I could be wrong, but I don’t think Poly meant “Democracy worked from 2008-2012, and failed at all other times in history.”

Especially when you consider those were the Bush years.

Yeah, you’re right. I have a feeling most of the people doing dumb stuff graduated before 2012.

You have zero evidence to state we are less educated now than at any time in the past. Why do I know this? Because every piece of evidence shows that the entire world is more educated than ever at every income and social status.

Literacy rates as an example.

Why are you posting a global result?

You do realise that we are seeing improvements due to developing countries improving their level (which was always abysmally bad).

Now try again for developed countries.

21% of US adults are illiterate (2022)

55 US Literacy Statistics: Literacy Rate, Average Reading Level.

I’d be curious to know how we’re going to qualify “being educated” . . . let alone quantifying any sort of measures of that concept.

Is it enough to assess “level of education attained”? For example, highest grade completed?

Is it enough to assess knowledge at a single point in time (e.g., SAT/ACT scores in the US) given a general tendency to “cram-pass-forget” knowledge?

And given the topic of the thread, should we constrain ourselves to data only from “countries of democracy” for assessment and discussion? Or should we include a more globally based data given the number of migrants received by many developed countries from underdeveloped countries?

I blame social media for validating extreme views.


I blame all the “Top 10” articles.


I would not say 20% of the US is illiterate. That implies 1 in 5 people cannot read. This article breaks out by literacy levels and only 4% of adults actually cannot read at all. Your 20% is under a 5th grade level.