Cover image for How democracy ends / David Runciman.
Title:
How democracy ends / David Runciman.
ISBN:
9781541616783
Edition:
First US edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
249 pages : 24 cm
Contents:
Preface: Thinking the unthinkable -- Introduction: 20 January 2017 -- Coup! -- Catastrophe! -- Technological takeover! -- Something better? -- Conclusion: This is how democracy ends -- Epilogue: 20 January 2053.
Abstract:
"In How Democracy Ends, David Runciman argues that we are trapped in outdated twentieth-century ideas of democratic failure. By fixating on coups and violence, we are focusing on the wrong threats. Our societies are too affluent, too elderly, and too networked to fall apart as they did in the past. We need new ways of thinking the unthinkable--a twenty-first-century vision of the end of democracy, and whether its collapse might allow us to move forward to something better"--Amazon.
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Summary

Summary

How will democracy end? And what will replace it? A preeminent political scientist examines the past, present, and future of an endangered political philosophy
Since the end of World War II, democracy's sweep across the globe seemed inexorable. Yet today, it seems radically imperiled, even in some of the world's most stable democracies. How bad could things get?
In How Democracy Ends , David Runciman argues that we are trapped in outdated twentieth-century ideas of democratic failure. By fixating on coups and violence, we are focusing on the wrong threats. Our societies are too affluent, too elderly, and too networked to fall apart as they did in the past. We need new ways of thinking the unthinkable--a twenty-first-century vision of the end of democracy, and whether its collapse might allow us to move forward to something better.
A provocative book by a major political philosopher, How Democracy Ends asks the most trenchant questions that underlie the disturbing patterns of our contemporary political life.


Author Notes

David Runciman is a professor of politics at Cambridge University. The author of five previous books and a contributing editor to the London Review of Books , he hosts the widely-acclaimed podcast Talking Politics . Runciman lives in Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Political philosopher Runciman (The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present) provides a meandering exploration of "the malaise of contemporary democracy" and identifies various possible means by which it might end. Runciman contends that observers who worry about the collapse of democratic institutions all too often focus on signs of democratic failure familiar from the last century: "backsliding" into "fascism, violence, and world war." Rather, Runciman theorizes, democracy is going through a "midlife crisis," and when the end comes, "we are likely to be surprised by the form it takes." The book examines several potential democracy enders: coups, the lurking disasters of climate change or nuclear war, and technology or corporations running amok. It also considers potential replacements for democracy: pragmatic authoritarianism, epistocracy-the distribution of power based on knowledge-and submission to artificial intelligence. This work is thought-provoking about the defects of contemporary democratic politics, but the free-flowing and loose structure and Runciman's avoidance of claiming certainty can make it inconclusive and uninspiring. Those who welcome encouragement to consider all sides and avoid jumping to conclusions, however, will find this a reasoned and balanced analysis of the political moment. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Runciman (political science, Cambridge Univ.; Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond) paints a compelling portrait of Western democracies' decline. The author begins with describing how the failure of Western democracies will be unlike those of the past, which were marked by violence and coups. With a particular emphasis on shifting political environments in Greece and the United States, while arguing that these political systems are not currently at the end point, he posits that Western democracy is past its prime: "Western democracy will survive its mid-life crisis.... This is not, after all, the end of democracy, but this is how democracy ends." Runciman's theories are not all gloom, however. Throughout, he discusses the idea that the end of Western democracy will not be the death of democracy or of human life. In addition, he provides hope that this change could signal the beginning of a new, higher functioning political system. VERDICT This title will appeal to readers who are questioning the present state of politics and government.-Mattie Cook, Flat River Community Lib., MI © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Preface Thinking the unthinkablep. 1
Introduction 20 January 2017p. 11
1 Coup!p. 26
2 Catastrophe!p. 82
3 Technological takeover!p. 120
4 Something better?p. 165
Conclusion This is how democracy endsp. 207
Epilogue 20 January 2053p. 219
Further Readingp. 225
Acknowledgementsp. 230
Notesp. 232
Indexp. 239

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