Can’t We Come Up with Something Better Than Liberal Democracy?

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker:

Democracy is the worst form of government,” Churchill is said to have said, “except all those other forms that have been tried.” Actually, what he excepted was “all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” with that last phrase implying that democracy is the root form, and the others mere occasional experiments. It was an odd notion, but was perhaps called for by the times in which he was speaking, the mid-nineteen-forties, when a war was won for democracy at a nearly unbearable cost. The art historian Kenneth Clark recalled appearing in those years on a popular BBC radio quiz program, “The Brains Trust,” and fumbling a question on the best form of government. The “right” answer, given by all the other panelists, was “democracy,” but this seemed to Clark “incredibly unhistorical”; he had, after all, studied the rise of Botticellian beauty in the Medici-mafia state of Florence, and of Watteau and rococo under the brute dynastic rule of France, and generally valued those despotic regimes where more great art and music got made than has ever been created under a bourgeois democracy. Wrong answer, nonetheless. He was never again trusted to be a Brain.

More here.