Disputatio 9 (13) (2020)

Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology
Democracy is often used as shorthand for liberal democracy. Despite such casual conflation, the two concepts remain importantly distinct. I argue that democracy unfettered by the constraints of liberal institutions and commitments gives rise to the proliferation of disinformation and to xenophobic populism. I draw upon Plato and the democracy of ancient Athens to illustrate the history of association between disinformation and democracy. Moving on to our more contemporary treatments of liberalism, specifically to the ideal theory of John Rawls, I show that in order to address disinformation and the reactionary politics in which it thrives, we must attend to a robust defense of liberalism against non-liberal and illiberal democracy.
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