Summary of Against Democracy

Looking for the book?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 10 minutes.

Against Democracy book summary
Start getting smarter:
or see our plans




  • Controversial
  • Innovative


Contrarian political philosopher Jason Brennan frets about democracy and the intellectual fitness of voters. The controversial Georgetown University professor argues for giving voting rights only to those who can pass a test or prove that they’re capable and competent. Brennan’s “epistocratic” vision is sacrilege to the world’s democracies and, despite his counterarguments, elitist, or at least exclusionary. Yet, to his credit, he manages to make a calm, logical case. Brennan’s analysis of how and why democracies go astray is worth reading. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his treatise to those policymakers, leaders and citizens who’d be intrigued by an out-of-the-mainstream analysis of modern politics.

About the Author

Georgetown University professor of strategy, economics, ethics and public policy Jason Brennan co-wrote Marketing without Limits with Peter Jaworkski, A Brief History of Liberty with David Schmidtz, and Compulsory Voting: For and Against with Lisa Hill. He also wrote The Ethics of Voting, Why Not Capitalism? and Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know.



“Hobbits, Hooligans and Vulcans”

Modern democracy is an imperfect system marked by high-minded talk of equality and undermined by apathy, voter ignorance and the vagaries of human nature.

In the late 1800s, voter turnout neared 80% for major US elections. Today, 60% reflects a healthy turnout for a US presidential vote. When voters decide to stay home, that isn’t the embodiment of a lamentable trend. It’s “a good start.”

Consider economist Joseph Schumpeter’s political theory: “The typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field…He becomes a primitive again.” If politics turns otherwise responsible citizens into beasts, perhaps it’s healthy that Americans are apathetic and care more about football than studying C-SPAN or the latest social science research.

Voters in democracies break down into three groups:

  1. Hobbits – These know-nothings typically don’t bother to vote and pay no attention to politics, policy or current events. Hobbits generally lack opinions about political matters.
  2. Hooligans – The political equivalent of “rabid sports fans,” these true believers...

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Anti-System Politics
Where Did You Get This Number?
Does mail-in voting lead to fraud – and does it help Democrats? The facts
When Crime Pays
The Fixer

Related Channels

Comment on this summary