Our politicians have ever-decreasing legitimacy, our financiers - their huge corporate risks underwritten by the taxpayerare literally and morally bankrupt. All this is done in our name, the public, yet we seem to have no genuine say in decision-making and no power to effect change. Why not? Hind traces how, historically, political and intellectual elites constructed a deeply ambiguous idea of the public, one designed to serve their own ends and preserve the status quo. After the Second World War, as democratization by previously marginalized groupswomen, ethnic minorities, the youngpresented new challenges to the establishment, governments made fresh attempts to exclude them from genuine political participation, invoking the arcane expertise of economists and the mystic qualities of nationalism, fueled by a compliant mass media. For decades, the public has been told to leave democracy to the experts. Now, Hind outlines a way forward for a new participatory politics, one based on a wholesale reform of the media. After the failure of the private, now is the time for the return of the public.