Against Elections (Paperback)
Vintage Publications, 9781847924223, 208pp.
Publication Date: July 7, 2016
List Price: 16.95*
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Democracy is in bad health. The symptoms are familiar: the rise of fear-mongering populists, widespread distrust in the establishment, personality contests, and point-scoring in place of reasoned debate, slogans instead of expertise. Against Elections offers a new diagnosis --and an ancient remedy. David Van Reybrouck reminds us that the original purpose of elections was to exclude the people from power by appointing an elite to govern over them. He demonstrates how over time their effect has been to reduce the people's participation in government to an absolute minimum, ensure power remains in the hands of those who already wield it, and force politicians to judge policies not on their merits but on their likelihood to win or lose votes. And that's when elections go well. Yet for most of democracy's 3000-year history governments were not chosen by election at all: they were appointed, much like the jury system, through a combination of volunteering and lottery. Drawing on vast learning, an international array of evidence, and a growing number of successful trials, Against Elections demonstrates how a sophisticated and practical version of this ancient system would work today and thus eliminate the underlying cause of democracy's sickness. Urgent, heretical, and completely convincing, this book leaves only one question to be answered: what are we waiting for?
About the Author
David Van Reybrouck is a pioneering advocate of participatory democracy. He founded the G1000 Citizens' Summit, and his work has led to trials in participatory democracy throughout the Netherlands. He is also one of the most highly regarded literary and political writers of his generation and the author of Congo: The Epic History of a People, which won 19 prizes and has been translated into a dozen languages.
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