Bakhtin's notions of carnival are founded on a settled, stratified society - a non-democratic society. In such a setting, authority can be suspended or set aside temporarily, and "the people" given a chance to act out their desires freely if temporarily. But today's world is not that kind of world. In the places where carnival as a formal institution is performed (Trinidad and Tobago, New Orleans Mardi Gras, and Rio de Janeiro, for example), the social "baseline" is democracy or the illusion of democracy. It is not that "the people" really have power on a daily basis or ultimately. But from time to time there are elections in which "the people" are appealed to, their votes sought, bought, and manipulated. This kind of democracy is both dysfunctional (in the US, nearly half the eligible voters do not vote) and illusory. The image-makers provide a daily diet of patriotism linked to democracy. But even if untrue, the "make believe" of democracy depends on the psychosocial phenomenon that "the people" are sovereign. If people believe that they are collectively sovereign, then against whom is carnival staged? From what overall authority is carnival a relief?