“You Call This a Democracy? Who Benefits, Who Pays, and Who Really Decides?”

by Paul Kivel

2004 Apex Press

Paul Kivel exposes the ruling class of the United States and how it operates in this short, easy-to-read book. With simple concepts and cute illustrations, a nuanced class analysis is presented in a very clear and accessible format.

If the education system was any good at all, “You Call This a Democracy?” would be one of the textbooks used in all high schools. It explains what the ruling class is (those with a family income above $373,000 and net financial wealth of at least $2 million), how it controls the government, media, and economy, and the negative effects we all suffer, such as poverty, wars, disease, pollution, over-working, stress, and meaningless, isolated lives. Kivel particularly does a great job exposing how the ruling class uses racism, sexism, homophobia and other social divisions to keep itself, a relatively small group of basically white Protestant men, in power. Making the connections between systems of oppression is one of the keys to the freedom of everybody, and this book helps move that analysis forward.

There a couple criticisms I could make about the book, first that it doesn’t inspire enough hope or provide much of a systematic solution to the problem that it systematically critiques. And secondly that the book can be cumbersome to read because of a fair amount of repetition coupled with too many general statements about segments of the population. To a certain extent, this was unavoidable in a book of this nature, but I could have used more examples of particular corporations, politicians, and businesspeople and their ilk, even though the examples given in the book are all great.

Definitely check this out if you want to have any idea about the country you’re living in, and how you and your family and everyone you care about are being screwed over by the super-wealthy elite. The path to a democratic future starts when we become informed.