New Democracy Cafes and Socrates Cafes are being established far and wide — from Krakow, Poland to Sahait, Syria, from the UK to Conifer, Colorado, to Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, to Sebastopol, CA, among others, many new groups have come into being of late. It’s thrilling, and humbling, that our unique approach to philosophizing and democratizing resonates in societies the world over..
And so our worldwide directory of groups affiliated with our nonprofit continues to expand and expand.
After more than 20 years indefatigably modeling and promoting inclusive inquiry from the bottom up in the name of cultivating genuinely participatory open societies here, there and everywhere, and in the process spreading the Socratic gospel of methodic, imaginative, empathic, egalitarian inquiry, not only are our Democracy Cafe initiatives decidedly not faddish, but we are catching fire more than ever, a new momentum building. And we accomplish this with no grant funding.
‘The people’ clearly are no longer content to leave philosophizing — inquiries and insights into questions as timely as they are timeless — to the sophists/gurus/coaches — much are they willing to leave democratizing — decision making on matters most pressing and salient in their lives — to the ‘experts.’ Rather, they are determined to do away with those forms of pretentiousness and stilted hierarchy and concerted marginalization that keep them from have their voices heeded and heard, and in the process to unrig a system that is the antithesis of what our rabble-rousing Founding Mothers and Fathers had in mind.
We don’t feature panel discussions or unimaginative idea festivals that ooze pretentiousness and have the same establishment players with the same tired ineffective solutions talking to (or really, down to) everyday folks — players who clearly feel they have nothing to learn from ordinary citizens, though I’ve found again and again that they have extraordinary stores of wisdom and insights and solutions to the woes that ail us, far more so than the traditional bevy of ‘experts.’
Each and every one of our gatherings is a mini-festival of sorts, a riffing and brainstorming and sharing of ideas and ideals. What’s more, we put ourselves on the same level, recognizing and celebrating the unique ‘expertises’ and stores of wisdom that every single human being of every age has. Children and youth, among our wisest, are welcome at our gatherings with open arms. My decided experience is the best and most fruitful ideas come from the bottom up, though those at the top of the power food chain would scoff (at best) at such a notion.
What’s more, even the most cursory study of the history of relatively democratic societies shows that they begin an irreversible downhill slide as soon as ‘the experts’ take over, and the citizens no longer strive to be the kinds of enlightened generalists who question and challenge them at every turn, and hold them accountable.
For all of us who care about the world we’re leaving to the next generations — not just the next one, two or three, but the next hundreds, thousands, of generations — it’s time to immerse ourselves in the civic sphere more than ever.
‘The people’ get this. The proof is in the pudding.
Just look at all the new Democracy Cafes and Socrates Cafes forming.