Is Liberal Democracy Sliding into 'Democratic Despotism'?
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Post-democracy and cognate concepts suggest that the postwar period of democratisation has given way to a concentration of power in the hands of small groups that are unrepresentative and unaccountable, as exemplified by the rise of multinational corporations and their influence on democratic politics. This article goes further to argue that this does not fully capture the triple threat facing liberal democracy: first, the rise of a new oligarchy that strengthens executive power at the expense of parliament and people; second, the resurgence of populism and demagogy linked to a backlash against technocratic rule and procedural politics; third, the emergence of anarchy associated with the atomisation of society and a weakening of social ties and civic bonds. In consequence, liberal democracy risks sliding into a form of ‘democratic despotism’ that maintains the illusion of free choice while instilling a sense of ‘voluntary servitude’ as conceptualised by Tocqueville.
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