Developing a Culture of Traditional Democracy
Traditional democracy is the perpetual struggle of the individual fighting for the greater good of society.
Cornel West refers to past African-American personalities (Sojourner Truth and W.E.B. Du Bois) amongst others as traditional and inspirational leaders of the democratic struggle. West draws insight from Du Bois who says that ordinary people are dehumanized by being lumped together and stereotyped; it is very difficult to sustain a vibrant and thriving democracy in this manner.
West further expounds that traditionally the ruling classes, “…subordinated and exploited everyday people” for the sake of maintaining their power and influence. West says that a small percentage of the American population possesses an overwhelming amount of the wealth; corporations have to be more accountable to the public because of their great wealth and influence. The middle class is threatened and under siege; under these circumstances authoritarian rule is sought after, therefore traditional democracy and the poor are at great risk: “…significant segments of that middle class to scapegoat those that are most vulnerable.”
Traditional democracy is always under threat when wealth, power and material possessions are far more important than the intangibles: “…mercy, justice, fidelity and kindness, etc.” Traditionally moral values are in decay and we have to return to old values such as sacrifice, empathy and courage. As part of the democratic tradition hope is a value to be engaged in perpetually; struggling and persisting for what is morally just and right. It is our moral obligation to have integrity, decency and compassion for our fellow man.
This struggle West says is about leaving our society and ultimately the world a little better.