Although democracy, in the formal sense, is precious, it is not in itself a measure of ultimate truth or authenticity. We shouldn't fetishise democracy - after all, you can have democratic elections where the majority votes for a rightist populist, and when it does, you have the right to treat the government as illegitimate. I don't think that this formal electoral procedure should be taken as equalling legitimacy.The thing is, the left should be ambivalent about democracy, at least in its current forms, for two reasons.
First, in prioritizing stated preferences over justice, it gives too much weight to the interests of the noisy but wrongly discontented privileged and not enough weight to those of the silent poor who have resigned themselves to their fate.
Secondly, cognitive biases research has shown that Marx was wholly correct on an important point. There are mechanisms which generate false beliefs, and these beliefs tend to support the existing order and hostility to the worst-off.
Democratic outcomes, then, can often be unjust and inefficient, and antagonistic to leftist ideals.
It’s a long leap from seeing this to Zizek’s Leninist vanguardism. But what are the alternatives? It’s rather condescending to claim that we can educate the public out of their cognitive biases - and impractical too, given the tendency for the trash media to strengthen them.
Are there other feasible democratic institutions which might not be prone to the two problems I’ve mentioned? I don’t know.
* Is this my Oxonian/empiricist bias showing? I’d welcome any evidence that I’m wrong here.