One question I had in the wake of Jodi Dean’s lecture on communism was why people thought that communism was uniquely dangerous, that it carried unique risks. We know, for instance, that liberal democracy can easily give way to dictatorship, even with the constitution being formally in force. We know that liberal democracy is compatible with chattel slavery and racial discrimination — and indeed that the first modern democratic republic ever established, the United States, spent over half a century with a significant enslaved population and a further century with a disenfranchised population subject to mob violence. Liberal democracy is compatible with the equivalent of secret police, with extra-legal assassinations, with undeclared wars of aggression, with vast and increasing economic inequality, with mass unemployment and homelessness, with child poverty and hunger, with a huge prison population resulting from a racist approach to law enforcement, with essential public functions being handed over to private individuals for private gain, etc., etc., etc.
Yet essentially no one says, “No, we can’t afford to try liberal democracy because it will lead straight to chattel slavery!” or “I admire the high ideals of democracy, but it always ends up with able-bodied adults begging on the street!”