In his widely acclaimed book Time to Start Thinking, Financial Times chief US columnist and commentator Edward Luce charted the course of America's relative decline, proving to be a prescient voice on our current social and political turmoil.
In The Retreat of Western Liberalism, Luce makes a larger statement about the weakening of western hegemony and the crisis of liberal democracy—of which Donald Trump and his European counterparts are not the cause, but a terrifying symptom. Luce argues that we are on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society's economic losers, and complacency about our system's durability—attitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We cannot move forward without a clear diagnosis of what has gone wrong. Unless the West can rekindle an economy that produces gains for the majority of its people, its political liberties may be doomed. The West's faith in history teaches us to take democracy for granted. Reality tells us something troublingly different.
Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the literature and economic analysis, Luce offers a detailed projection of the consequences of the Trump administration, the rise of European populism, and a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.
In The Limits of Pure Democracy he argued that the pseudo-populist leaders of the political party system promise everything but deliver only the end of parties as such. For Mallock, what starts with populism ends in dictatorship. The Russian Revolution was simply the historical outcome of utopian socialist visions that were more dedicated to destroying the present system of things than bringing about a revitalized future. Mallock's book explains how the modern free market succeeds through competition in increasing output, broadening occupational opportunities, and multiplying the numbers of skilled professionals. In contrast, welfare schemes serve to deepen poverty by spreading wealth so evenly that incentives to work decline and personal savings are eliminated. These arguments have become commonplace today. But at the time they served as an incendiary reminder that class warfare works in both directions.
Mallock was a remarkably talented writer who made the case against exaggerated expectations, a nascent welfare system, and mass political parties led by oligarchs. But he also offered a case for increasing a regard for work, advancing the cause of education as a method of entering the modern world, and for retaining a sense of religious codes that define the West. Mallock's search for an understanding of popular rule coincided with his appreciation and elucidation of the limitations of the emerging plebiscitarian spirit within democracy. The Limits of Pure Democracy will
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Most people believe democracy is a uniquely just form of government. They believe people have the right to an equal share of political power. And they believe that political participation is good for us—it empowers us, helps us get what we want, and tends to make us smarter, more virtuous, and more caring for one another. These are some of our most cherished ideas about democracy. But Jason Brennan says they are all wrong.
In this trenchant book, Brennan argues that democracy should be judged by its results—and the results are not good enough. Just as defendants have a right to a fair trial, citizens have a right to competent government. But democracy is the rule of the ignorant and the irrational, and it all too often falls short. Furthermore, no one has a fundamental right to any share of political power, and exercising political power does most of us little good. On the contrary, a wide range of social science research shows that political participation and democratic deliberation actually tend to make people worse—more irrational, biased, and mean. Given this grim picture, Brennan argues that a new system of government—epistocracy, the rule of the knowledgeable—may be better than democracy, and that it's time to experiment and find out.
A challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable, Against Democracy is essential reading for scholars and students of politics across the disciplines.
Featuring a new preface that situates the book within the current political climate and discusses other alternatives beyond epistocracy, Against Democracy is a challenging critique of democracy and the first sustained defense of the rule of the knowledgeable.