Leonard Cohen On “Democracy is the great religion of the West”

Democracy is the great religion of the West – probably the greatest religion because it affirms other religions; probably the greatest culture because it affirms other cultures. But it’s based on faith, it’s based on appetite for fraternity, it’s based on love, and therefore it shares the characteristics of a religious movement. It’s also like a religion in that it’s never really been tried.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


The Future by Alberto Manzano. El Europeo: Spring 1993. Note: Originally posted June 26, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On His Feelings About Paris After 2015 Terrorist Attacks: “I said goodbye to something that I didn’t want to lose.”


Leonard Cohen at his final Paris Concert – June 18, 2013

Le Dernier Empereur by J.D. Beauvallet and Pierre Siankowski (Les Inrocks: Oct 19, 2015) [from interview transcript]

Credit Due Department: Photo by Mhln

“Politics in a very, very personal sense” 1992 Video Interview With Leonard Cohen


Gordana Stupar’s latest discovery of Leonard Cohen arcana, a 1992 NRK interview with Agnes Moxnes, is especially timely given the impending US presidential election. The background is a performance of Democracy, and the notions invoked by this song are the primary topics of the interview.

Watch Leonard Cohen point out what he finds attractive about Ross Perot – and George Bush – and Bill Clinton (and Bill Clinton’s “lovely wife”). Hear the Canadian singer-songwriter explain that he sometimes feels that he is the leader of a “small constituency” of those who do not feel represented and are consequently, if not rebellious, at least “irritated” and “saddened.”  Marvel as he references G. K. Chesterton, noting that democracy is like a religion in that it’s never really been tried.1

Most enlightening, however, are Cohen’s comments on his characterization of politics as used in Democracy: “It’s politics in a very, very personal sense.”

Politics in a personal sense.It’s as if you’re asked to think of democracy the way you think of a lover or a friend or a child or a parent … It’s a very personal and useless view. The things of the heart are really useless and that’s their value. They can’t be put to work. You just live with them.”

This video can be accessed at 1992 NRK Leonard Cohen Interview



  1. The Chesterton quotation is actually “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” []

“Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield” Leonard Cohen

Of course it’s a revolution. But I want to see the real revolution. I don’t want it siphoned off by the mobilization people. It’s got to take place in every room. Revolutionaries, in their heart of hearts, are excited by the tyranny they wield. The lines are being drawn and people on both sides are beginning to terrorize each other. Somehow we have to break out of this process, which can only lead to both sides becoming like each other. I’m afraid that when the Pentagon is finally stormed and taken, it will be by guys wearing uniforms very much like the ones worn by the guys defending it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From “I’ve Been on the Outlaw Scene Since 15” by William Kloman. New York Times: Jan 28, 1968.

Leonard Cohen Critiques Communist Governments

Anybody who has ever seen a communist government, who has felt it for a moment, who has ever seen the public presence of a government – we don’t know what it is to have the public intrusion into our private world. I hate it.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


From The Midday Show With Ray Martin. ABC Sydney: May 24, 1985.

Note: Originally posted Mar 14, 2014 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

“People are a complex of everyday heroes…All of them are heroes, but each with a different destiny.” Leonard Cohen

People are a complex of everyday heroes, at least that’s what I feel. There are millions of faces and personalities, but all together they form a people. Then, within each group, there emerges a value system that makes some into leaders and others into followers, that makes some into celebrities, and others into unknown people. All of them are heroes, but each with a different destiny.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


1974 Interview with Leonard Cohen by Jordi Sierra I Fabra. Published in Leonard Cohen by Alberto Manzano (1978).

Note: Originally posted Apr 29, 2011 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric