September 27, 2021

review of DEMOCRACY: A User’s Guide

By Simon Cocking, review of DEMOCRACY: A User’s Guide.
Available from Amazon here.
How “Free” are we.

How democratic are our so-called “Democracies”

Is it enough to simply elect our leaders and sit back, helpless, as they rule over us like dictators.
What good is selecting our politicians, if we cannot control our media, police or soldiers.
If we must blindly follow our teachers’ and bosses’ commands, whilst at school and in the workplace, is it not a little naïve to believe that we are the masters of our own destinies.
And if our resources are controlled by a tiny cabal of plutocrats, bankers and corporations; can we honestly say that our economies are being run for us.
Could things not be a little bit more, well, democratic.
Indeed they can.

“Democracy: A User’s Guide” shows us how… Within the pages of this story-filled book

we shall visit Summerhill, a democratic school in the east of England, before stopping off in Brazil to check out Semco, where workplace democracy is the name of the game.
We will travel to Rojava, to explore life in a democratic army, and head to Spain, to see why Podemos is giving liquid democracy a go.
We shall travel back in time, to see democracy at work in hunter-gatherer societies, tribal confederacies, the guilds and on the commons.
We will consider the case for participatory budgeting, deliberative democracy, collaborative hiring, community currencies, peer-to-peer lending, and much much more.

The message is clear and concise: Democracy does not have to be a pipe dream

We have all the tools we need to rule ourselves.
DEMOCRACY: A User’s Guide, reviewed This book begins with some interesting examples from the animal world in the first chapter called Primitive Democracy.
These were both entertaining and insightful, with thought provoking case studies from chimpanzees and gorillas.
Demonstrating that the alpha male does not always get their own way, and it is often the females that carefully guide and direct the situation to achieve the goals they wish to realise.
From the animal world it moves to humanity, with a lot of fascinating examples from across many cultures and many centuries to illustrate that society has operated in many ways, and with many different operating systems.
One critique would be that at times it felt like the narrative missed some stitching together context and analysis, and on a couple of occasions we  had to double back to check we had not missed a linking piece of text.
In a second edition it might offer value to give the reader more of a headsup about where the author plans to take the reader on this global tour of various forms of democracy.
Overall we found the book enjoyable, and with many many interesting and curious examples of how societies or small tribal groups have done things very differently to how they are now performed.
It is a book that we will recommend to the teenagers in the house, especially during and hopefully post lockdown to nudge them to realise that the status quo never has to be accepted.
In this context the examples Sheldon has collected for this book are fascinating and make for a provocative read.
A preview of my new book, “DEMOCRACY: A User””s Guide”, is now available on my website: If you like it enough to buy it, you can pre-order your copy here:. — Joss Sheldon (@JossSheldon) August 2, 2020     More about Irish Tech News and Business Showcase here.

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