Jean-Paul Gagnon is a philosopher of the democracies based at the University of Canberra. Gagnon's current research is focused on understanding the meanings of democracy and cognate terms in the world, which is approached as a rescue, conservancy, and training operation. Forthcoming books include Democracy Therapy: Democratic Treatments for Our Authoritarian Lives and The Sciences of the Democracies.
Authoritarianism is Also a Social Problem
Drawing from his forthcoming book Democracy Therapy: Democratic Treatments for our Authoritarian Lives, Gagnon relies on the crucible of the Anthropocene to explain how, for the majority of people, social life is inherently authoritarian – even in full democracies. From how we treat ourselves, are treated in our homes and families, schools, workplaces, apartment buildings, clubs, hospitals, prisons, retirement homes, and other such voluntary and involuntary "social spaces", the evidence is overwhelmingly authoritarian. Gagnon argues that if we wish to continue democratizing our political situations, we must turn our efforts toward democratizing our social situations, for one feeds the other. This, however, is difficult work. This talk ends with a recommendation for the establishment of multidisciplinary "democracy therapy" centres whose mission it is to assist people in democratizing one or more aspects of their social lives.