About Democracy and Other Problems.

This is my new Substack. I’m excited. I will be sharing challenging and unusual takes on the democratic idea—and extensions and refinements of my theory of “democratic minimalism” which I outline in my new book The Problem of Democracy (You can read an excerpt in The Atlantic here— “Can Democracy Exist Without Liberalism?”). I’m also excited about building a community where I can interact, discuss, and debate with readers more directly outside of the chaos and bad feeling of Twitter.

Why become a paid subscriber?

Some posts will be free and available to all. Some posts will be paywalled, particularly the ones where I’m still experimenting with unformed ideas. I do like the idea of restricting readers to those who are committed to good faith exploration of deep difference. In the new year and with your support, I will begin hosting subscriber-only threads and chats as well as trying out new things with audio.

And now on to content and substance:

I believe that the question of what to do when democracy produces “bad” outcomes is the fundamental political question of our time. This is dear to me. It’s, in a sense, personal. I was on the side that lost a great debate. For now. I want to have a particular space—this space—to write more about democratic minimalism for and to people who are ready and willing to re-orient their own understanding of democracy and why (or whether) it is good. Can the “problem” of democracy be resolved?

I don't mean to sound like a preacher, but I hope that some of you will read about "democratic minimalism" and adopt it as a way of practicing democracy, including right here at home. But I also hope you will use this space to challenge, criticize, and push back.

My book The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea is available here.

I write a monthly essay on culture, politics, and religion for The Atlantic, which you can find here.

I’m also the co-host of Wisdom of Crowds with my good friend Damir Marusic, arguably the most eloquent and brilliant Croatian-American essayist of his generation. The pod is available on all major platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Subscribe to Shadi Hamid's Notebook

A newsletter committed to exploring how and why democracy produces "bad" outcomes—and what to do about it. And other things that may or may not be completely unrelated to that.


Columnist & Editorial Board member at The Washington Post. Co-founder of Wisdom of Crowds. My new book is THE PROBLEM OF DEMOCRACY: http://amzn.to/3Q15rwC.