The democratic appeal
Democracy is attractive because it gives more than the right to select leaders now and then. Its appeal is to provide everyone with the means to go beyond the restricting circles of family, neighbourhood and work, and to interrelate, to meet others, not just those who are close, but all those living on the same territory, and possibly over the borders too. The democratic dream promises a potential universality, the earthly realization of a brotherhood and sisterhood that religion offers in its own way. Marx was not the only one to emphasize the intimate connection between Christianity and the modern State: the former sees each man as the bearer of an individual soul that makes him equal to others in spirit (everyone can be saved); the latter sees each man as politically equal to others (every citizen has a right to vote and be elected).
To fully appreciate the democratic appeal, we should bear in mind what existed before, when formal (i.e. political) equality was unheard of. Not just the ruling elite, but many thinkers and artists showed open contempt for the mass of peasants and workmen that were thought of as an inferior species. Most famous French writers treated the Paris Commune fighters as if they were outside or below human standards. Until the mid-20th century, hatred of the workers was widespread among the middle and upper classes, in Germany for instance. 1939-45 was the definitive taming of the rabble: with few exceptions, the toiling masses of the world behaved in a patriotic way, so the bourgeois stopped being scared of a populace that seemed to be respecting law and order at last. Now nearly everyone in a Western-type democracy accepts at least verbally the notion that one human being is worth another. Yet this equivalence is achieved by comparing quantified items. In democratic capitalism, each human person is my fellow being insomuch as his vote and mine are added and then computed. Modern citizenship is the bourgeois form of freedom.