Like culture, the word democracy can mean a lot of things, but anthropologist and political activist David Graeber hits upon a useful starting point in his book The Democracy Project when he writes, “It’s not even really a mode of government. In its essence it is just the belief that humans are fundamentally equal and ought to be allowed to manage their collective affairs in an egalitarian fashion, using whatever means appear most conducive.” From this standpoint, democracy is not a particular set of norms, such as elections or political parties, but a way of thinking. Thiel has a point about the power law — society is very unequal in a lot of ways. In effect, large businesses and venture-capital-backed startups are planning the future — just as the titans of the commercial web are planning life online. A democratic mindset looks at this and says that because imbalances might exist in someone’s circumstances — because they don’t have a lot of money, or because they’re marginalized socially in some way — doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in society. And if someone has a stake in society, they deserve a say in how it’s run. It’s a simple matter of human dignity.