Summary of The Case Against Democracy

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  • Controversial
  • Analytical


If Americans don’t know what’s in their Constitution, how can they pick leaders who will uphold its principles? Since the days of Plato in ancient Greece, intellectuals have fretted about ignorant voters and argued for a system run by educated people instead. Political scientist Jason Brennan is one such intellectual. Literary critic and journalist Caleb Crain dissects Brennan’s new book Against Democracy, offering historical insights and a fresh voice. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends Crain’s sharp analysis, which doesn’t lose faith in democracy.

About the Author

Caleb Crain is a literary critic, journalist and author of the award-winning novel Necessary Errors.



Roughly one-third of Americans can’t name a single branch of the US government; less than a quarter can name their own states’ senators. Ignorant voters have worried elites since the days of Plato in ancient Greece. The US government required literacy tests for more than a century, blocking poor immigrants and later black citizens from voting. Scholar David Estlund coined the term “epistocracy” to describe a political system which educated voters control.

In his book Against Democracy, Jason Brennan divides citizens into three groups: 1) “hobbits” who ignore...

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