- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (23 Jun. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0745633153
- ISBN-13: 978-0745633152
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.3 x 19.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Post-democracy (Themes for the 21st Century Series) Paperback – 23 Jun 2004
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"A brilliant short text, among the most penetrating analyses of the modern condition I have read."
"A powerful plea for a politics of the left in the twenty–first century. He is no advocate of the Third Way. For him the stark alternative is liberal democracy or egalitarian democracy, and he clearly opts for the latter. Those who disagree with his analysis or his conclusions will have to make their case, and will no doubt do so. Crouch s book is sure to give rise to lively debate.
"Colin Crouch has the great gift of bringing theory down to accessible earth. Social capital theory is applied to the policies needed for civil renewal. This thoughtful book is a culmination of all that we have been expecting–and more–from his Fabian pamphlets and Political Quarterly articles on the dilemmas of democracy in troubled times."
Professor Bernard Crick
From the Back Cover
Post–Democracy is a polemical work that goes beyond current complaints about the failings of our democracy and explores the deeper social and economic forces that account for the current malaise.
Colin Crouch argues that the decline of those social classes which had made possible an active and critical mass politics has combined with the rise of global capitalism to produce a self–referential political class more concerned with forging links with wealthy business interests than with pursuing political programmes which meet the concerns of ordinary people. He shows how, in some respects, politics at the dawn of the twenty–first century returns us to a world familiar well before the start of the twentieth, when politics was a game played among elites. However, Crouch maintains that the experience of the twentieth century remains salient and it reminds us of possibilities for the revival of politics.
This engaging book will prove challenging to all those who claim that advanced societies have reached a virtual best of all possible democratic worlds, and will be compelling reading for anyone interested in the shape of twenty–first–century politics.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Bascially Crouch argues that we are witnessing a shift towards post-democracy where the political, corporate and media elites are colluding in creating a new establishment which replaces the old one and has marginalised the conventional democratic structures such as Parliament and political parties.
Crouch underlines that we are in uncharted waters and that politics and power are changing as a new elite attempts to browbeat the rest of us into accepting their worldview: that their is no alternative to globalisation and the market, that competition and free trade are best, etc. The first step in opposing this agenda is in understanding its implications and Crouch does this in a superb way. A must read book.
The concept of post democracy is about the new American election battle. It is based on TV duels and big promoting the poll. I thing in Europe, we will behave differently. Some of these concepts are in the European polls as well, but not so concentrated. He starts with the view of the people turns to the influences of the big corporations, the new role of the parties and what follows of that triangle. The neo liberalism is the enemy in his view and guilty of everything. If the people like it. Why not? You can not chose your people. In the democracy you must deal with the people and the institution you have. You can change it.
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This does not lead to the complete abandonment of democratic forms. We do not live in non-democratic states, but in post-democratic state. As Crouch puts it, we are on the declining segment of the parabola, long after the apex was reached. Hence, we still have democratic forms - elections, parties and the like. However, they become increasingly disconnected from mass publics. Politicians and parties simply don't need public support any more in the way that they used to. A little bit of volunteerism is still useful - even artificial entities such as Berlusconi's Forza Italia! eventually acquired local branches. But it doesn't have much connection to policy, which is made in a circuit between business and lobbyists. This results in corrupt relationships and regular scandals, which further devalue conventional politics, and paradoxically render accountability more difficult, not less
Crouch's analysis has some important implications. First - he suggests that this is a perverse outcome for the ideology of neo-liberals, which claimed that marketized relationships would address the problems identified by public choice scholars. But what we have seen is not an expansion of free markets, but instead increased oligopolistic concentration, combined with an ever-larger set of ambiguous relationships in which government and business interests are impossible to distinguish from each other. Crouch argues that Hayek never solved the problem of politics - a Hayekian order is unsustainable because businesses can do better from playing with the rules of the game than from engaging in competition. An implication of Crouch's arguments is that the only way that neo-liberalism will work is in a confined system, where there are clear demarcations between politics and markets, and specifically an emphatic recognition of an inviolable realm of politics where the public good, rather than the pursuit of private benefits dominates. How to get there from where we are is less obvious. The old system worked because we had a class which recognized its common interests and was prepared to act on them. We do not have any equivalent today.
There are bits of the book that are outdated. There's little discussion of the Internet. The world after the economic crisis is a different one than the one that Crouch describes (although, as he discusses in his more recent book on the strange non-death of neo-liberalism, not nearly as different as as one might have hoped). But its main lessons and arguments are entirely relevant today. People who like Chris Hayes's "Rise of the Elites," but want to read something with a broader historical, cross-national and sociological sweep than Chris is able to give in a book aimed at a more general audience will find it invaluable.
Crouch shows how this hollowing out of democracy is proceeding apace in European countries just as it is in the U.S. Crouch follows the familiar narrative of our coming from an age in the 1800s in which the government was a game played by the ruling elite, through the achievements of the labor movement, to the 1960s and the highest levels of prosperity and highest standard of living in history, to our post-democratic times, in which we have the bare-bones of democracy but without active citizen participation. Crouch calls this development "the commercialization of citizenship."
Crouch is very good in describing how government itself has been demonized by the ruling elite. The large corporation has become the dominant institution of society and the model of competence and efficiency. This results not only in the disabling of governments ability to do things, especially big things, but also running government programs on the corporation model, with the emphasis on the bottom line instead of the delivery of high-standard services to the widest possible constituency. This robs government agents also of their confidence in their own competence to do things, making the government look like the village idiot.
In the last chapter on remedies, Crouch recommends more active participation of citizens in politics, especially in motivating their private causes and movements to become more involved. The lobbies are here to stay and they are a major force that citizens can use in governmental reform. It is not enough any more to just give to private causes and charities, but to urge them to use more political strategies.
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