Democracy and Its Crisis

A.C. Grayling (The Challenge of Things) is a left-leaning British professor of philosophy, author of many books and well known for his columns and television appearances in the U.K. In Democracy and Its Crisis, he brings his expertise in the history of philosophy and political thought to the question of modern representative democracy, how it was developed over centuries, how it has recently failed and how we might repair it.

"For many centuries, the idea of democracy was regarded with revulsion and fear." Generations of great thinkers struggled with the question of how to harness the benefits of democracy "without risk of it collapsing into either mob rule or tyranny." Reasonable fears of demagoguery, of mob rule, "manipulation by a hidden oligarchy" and of the "ignorance, self-interest, short-termism and prejudice typical of too many voters" prevented the rise of effective democratic governments until the 18th century. With remarkable clarity and speed, Grayling examines the development of democratic political thought and surveys the ideas of Plato, Aristotle and Machiavelli, the Putney Debates of the English Civil War, Locke, Hobbes, Spinoza, Montesquieu and Rousseau, and the difficult creation of the U.S. Constitution. He argues that we must defend and strengthen the core principles of democracy through compulsory civic education, compulsory voting at an earlier age, and a reconfiguration of politics in civic life. The U.K. is his primary focus, with the U.S. second, but the ideas he discusses apply to the problems of democracy anywhere. This is a serious consideration of a complex subject by an excellent educator and writer, and is worth the time of anyone concerned for the future of good government. --Sara Catterall

Powered by: Xtenit