Prompted by the EU referendum in the UK and the presidential election in the USA, A. C. Grayling investigates why the institutions of representative democracy seem unable to hold up against forces they were designed to manage, and why, crucially, it matters.
First he considers moments in history - Periclean Athens, the English Civil War, the American and French Revolutions, among them - in which the challenges we face today were first encountered and what solutions, however imperfect, were found. Then he lays bare the specific problems of democracy in the twenty-first century and maps out a set of urgently needed reforms.
With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the simultaneous rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy, says Grayling, if a civilized society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish.
“A compelling and deeply unsettling dissection of the way in which democratic principles have been subverted by vested interests in the UK and the USA. This book shows that democracy can only be defended if we first understand how it is being attacked.” - Nick Clegg
“A concise, clear and challenging survey of the history of democracy, its recent failures and how we might repair it.” - Shelf Awareness