"If we build movements… we can usher in the age of reform and resume the idea of democracy as the place we go to change the world." – Anand Giridharadas, speaking at In Defence of Democracy
On a rainy night in November 2020, the Samara Centre for Democracy was proud to partner with CBC Radio's Ideas to present In Defence of Democracy, a fireside chat between bestselling author Anand Giridharadas and acclaimed journalist Nahlah Ayed in front of a live audience at the University of Toronto.
Known for his unapologetic and provocative critique of the global elite’s efforts to “change the world,” Giridharadas forcefully makes the case that decisions for the public good should be in the public’s hands in his latest book, Winners Take All. The new host of Ideas, Ayed is also an author and award-winning veteran of foreign reporting who has covered many of the major stories of our time.
The evening began with a stirring musical performance by 11-year-old Joey Myran and 16-year-old Dakota Myran of the Dakota Ojibway Nation. Kendall Anderson, Executive Director of the Samara Centre, then welcomed the sold-out audience before inviting Giridharadas and Ayed to the stage.
In a thoroughly insightful and entertaining conversation on power, philanthropy, and the future of democracy, Giridharadas encouraged those in attendance to usher in an age of reform built on public purpose, to get involved in community and making change, and to reinvigorate government by running for office, stressing “the only way you make government better is by getting involved in government.”
In standing up for democracy, Giridharadas defended the work of public servants and argued passionately for more civic engagement, urging citizens to amplify their power by joining together. "While you don't have individually the power to dethrone a Mark Zuckerberg, what you do have the power to do—today, tomorrow and the next day—is to start joining things," he told Ayed.
The hour-long exchange ended with thoughtful and challenging questions from the audience, and sparked further reaction and discussion at the reception that followed and on social media.
You can listen to the episode of Ideas recorded at the event on the program's website. Ideas is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history, produced by CBC Radio.
Watch the complete and uncut conversation below: