People defend democracy because they find it hard to believe that we did this to ourselves. But think of it this way: every culture has the goal of improving itself; democracy replaces that goal with “being democratic.”
When a civilization begins, its goal is to avoid being destroyed; once it achieves enough wealth that there are no longer threats, people either find another purpose or look inward.
The problem here is that any other purpose will not be tangible like the idea of overcoming threats. This is an evolutionary challenge to the development of the human mind: we need to be able to understand the value of the intangible and long-term future purpose as well as be able to react to short-term threats.
Among human populations, there are some who innately understand the need for a long-term intangible purpose. They gravitate toward immutable but ongoing goals like the transcendentals — “the good, the beautiful and the true” — or the constant struggle against entropy, stupidity and venality in order to produce a civilization that endures and improves until the end of time.
Democracy replaces more than the people. It replaces the culture and its genetic root. We might view democracy as a virus or other parasitic organism:
The end result of complete cellular representation is cancer. Democracy is cancerous, and bureaus are its cancer. A bureau takes root anywhere in the state, turns malignant like the Narcotic Bureau, and grows and grows, always reproducing more of its own kind, until it chokes the host if not controlled or excised. Bureaus cannot live without a host, being true parasitic organisms. (A cooperative on the other hand can live without the state. That is the road to follow. The building up of independent units to meet needs of the people who participate in the functioning of the unit. A bureau operates on opposite principles of inventing needs to justify its existence.) Bureaucracy is wrong as a cancer, a turning away from the human evolutionary direction of infinite potentials and differentiation and independent spontaneous action to the complete parasitism of a virus. (It is thought that the virus is a degeneration from more complex life-form. It may at one time have been capable of independent life. Now has fallen to the borderline between living and dead matter. It can exhibit living qualities only in a host, by using the life of another — the renunciation of life itself, a falling towards inorganic, inflexible machine, towards dead matter.) Bureaus die when the structure of the state collapse. They are as helpless and unfit for independent existence as a displaced tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host. – William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Instead of acting for ourselves (individualism) or the group (collectivism), people should act for this organic whole known as civilization which includes both individual and group. It balances the needs of those against the need to survive for the future, and to improve in the present. Democracy counteracts this, which is why it is easier and more popular.