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In Defence of Democracy




In Defence of Democracy

Roslyn Fuller

ISBN: 978-1-509-53313-8 November 2019 Polity 216 Pages

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Should Brexit or the election of Trump cause us to doubt our faith in democracy? Are ‘the people’ too ignorant or stupid to rule? Numerous commentators are beginning to seriously argue that the answer to these questions might be ‘yes’.

In this humorous, take-no-prisoners book, Canadian-Irish author Roslyn Fuller kicks these anti-democrats where it hurts the most – the facts. Fuller shows how many academics, journalists, politicians and businesspeople have embraced the idea that there can be ‘too much democracy’, and deftly unravels their attempts to end majority rule, whether that be through limiting the franchise, pursuing Chinese ‘meritocracy’ or confining participation to random legislation panels. She shows that Trump, Brexit, or whatever other political event you may have disapproved of recently, aren’t doing half the damage to democracy that elite self-righteousness and corruption are. In fact, argues Fuller, there are real reasons to be optimistic. Ancient methods can be combined with modern technology to revitalise democracy and allow the people to truly rule. 

In Defence of Democracy is a sharp, witty and highly readable response to democracy’s critics, and an energetic contribution to the debate on the future of democracy.
Introduction: Why This? Why Me? Why Now?

Part One: The Terrible Truth: People Aren’t All That Stupid or Evil

Objection One: Democracy Can’t Work Because People are Too Racist and Sexist
Objection Two: People are Too Stupid for Democracy
Objection Three: There’s No Point to Democracy Because People Don’t Know What Is Good For Them Anyway
Objection Four: People are Just Too Crazy for Democracy to Work
To Conclude

Part Two: Fixing Politics the Anti-Democrat Way

Section I Assorted Libertarian, Authoritarian and Explicitly Elitist Solutions

Rule by the ‘Knowledgeable’ (Jason Brennan)
Rule by the Deep State (Bryan Caplan)
Rule by the Market (Ilya Somin)
Long Live the Party! (Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes)
Rule of the Superior (Daniel Bell)

Section II Sortition: The False Democrats
Representation and Legitimacy
Politics is Conflict Mediation
Conclusions On Sortition

Conclusions to Part Two

Part Three: A World You Might Want to Actually Live In (Fuller Democracy)

Five Principles for Transformational (but Responsible…) People Power

1. Shift to Online and En Masse
2. Pay-for-Participation
3. Focused, Outcome-Oriented Deliberation (Information, Isegoria and Conflict Resolution)
4. Precarious, Informal Leadership (but Leadership all the Same)
5. Sortition in its Proper Place

Why It’s Worth It

1. People want Democracy
2. Fuller Democracy Solves a lot of Anti-Democrat Objections to Democracy
3. Writing a New Social Contract

Final Words: Buckle-up Buttercup – The Future is Going to be Interesting