Democracy Is Coming

With Nora Benavidez, Damir Marusic, Bhaskar Sunkara, and Astra Taylor 

Featuring remarks from Elizabeth Diller and a performance by Imani Uzuri

Historically, democracy has made violent entrances into society — from ancient Greece to the American revolution to the Arab Spring. But has any people ever truly formed an ideal democracy? Or have we faltered — are we faltering now — on the steps of tyranny? Plato wrote that “the excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction.” If that’s true, this current rise of authoritarian regimes might be a sign that democracy has a less obvious foothold in our society than we’d like to believe. Democracy Is Coming asks the question: if true democracy arrived tomorrow, would we even want to let it in?

Democracy Is Coming is part of the Onassis Festival 2019: Democracy Is Coming, co-presented by Onassis USA and The Public Theater.

Nora Benavidez is the director of U.S. Free Expression Programs for PEN America. A lawyer by training, prior to joining PEN America, she worked in private practice as a civil and human rights litigator in Atlanta, Georgia. She has represented victims of unconstitutional police practices, First Amendment infringements, discrimination in public schools, and voting rights violations. In addition to her work as a litigator, Benavidez partnered with regional grassroots organizations and state and local legislative entities, advising and testifying on community-centered reforms in public safety, government transparency, criminal justice, and free speech. She’s worked as a staff attorney at the ACLU of Georgia, graduated from Emory University School of Law (where she received the Dean’s Public Service Award as well as the Pro Bono Service Medal), and received her BA from NYU’s Gallatin School.

Damir Marusic is the executive editor of The American Interest and a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative. He has written extensively in both media and policy format about US politics, US foreign policy, and European affairs, specifically relating to the Balkans and Russia. He was previously a fellow in the World Affairs Journal’s Transatlantic Fellowship Program and a program and grants associate at the International Youth Foundation. 

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor and publisher of Jacobin, a Guardian US columnist, and the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality (Basic Books, 2019).  

Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, writer, and political organizer. Director: What Is Democracy? (TIFF 2018), Examined Life (TIFF 2008), and Zizek! (TIFF 2005). Author: Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone (out in May) and The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. Co-founder of the Debt Collective. She has written for The New York Times, The London Review of Books, TheGuardian, The Walrus, The Baffler, n+1, and more. She is a former Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow and a former touring member of the band Neutral Milk Hotel.

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