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Nov 24, 2013

A Surprising Counterargument to Democracy
When I awoke this morning I had no idea I'd be rushing to post a counterargument to democracy. As a great fan of democracy and the designer of a global democratic model myself called  Democratic Globe, I have always thought democracy is the best gift we westerners can give to the world. But then I heard this talk by Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo and suddenly I'm thinking differently about it. In it she points out that though democracies flourish in economically solid countries, it's likely that they're the result, not the cause.

We have seen three "waves" of democratic transition in history and some say the Arab Spring signals the beginnings of a fourth. But with the "democratic recession"– a general erosion of freedom around the world since about 2000– that claim seems too optimistic. One look at the situation in the US where the rich now rake in all the goodies, gives pause to the idea that we can hang onto that lofty system here. So how can we inspire developing countries to democratize? That appears unlikely. They are much more impressed by the model of state capitalism offered by China, which is pulling people out of poverty, not plunging them deeper in like the US is.

Although I will never stop working for the ideal of democracy and resisting the empty vision of becoming rich, I have to admit that any system that reduces poverty is not only better than the alternative, but will always sell more tickets. So now what will we do with what remains of American good will? Maybe we need to shout less about freedom and more about improving the quality of life.

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.