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This Debate

David Aaronovitch, Robin Dunbar, Simon Glendinning, Bonnie Greer. Isabel Hilton hosts.

From the Russian mafia to global corporations, from Chinese leaders to Saudi princes, the world it would seem is run by oligarchies as much as democracy.  Should we be outraged or is democracy over-rated? Is there an ideal political framework or can Sparta be as valuable as Athens?

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George Orwell on 18/09/2012 7:17pm

Dunbar's an interesting choice on this panel. 3/4 of electorial victors have been the taller? There's a sense in which Dunbar's points do infringe upon the credibility of democracy, but only in some kind of abstract ideal form... i.e. a form we don't and will never hav3e...

... and more controversially, might there be a reason why taller people (perhaps, broadly, on average, caveat, caveat, etc) in fact DO have the qualities that we want in a leader? e.g. be more confident, more accustoned to being respected in social situations. For such an impressive anthropologist Dunbar;s awareness of the correlation-causation distinction is disappointing...

Joe LT on 18/09/2012 7:06pm

35:48 "The democractic bit comes when we have general election" - genius move by Mr Aaronovitch! Cutting remarks aside, there's something far more important embedded within David's comments there. How passive should democracy be? How active should it be? Well, don't think - just LOOK. Look at how active it IS, and how bothered we ARE. When we don't have enough, we fight for it, when we have it, we sit back just enough to let it stay at the right level. Any more, and we end up with everyone indeed being too involved in the 'business' of democracy - i.e. wasting their time unless something is actually wrong. And when it is wrong, we do make a big noise. And that noise counts as much as it needs to.

The Inquisitor on 06/03/2012 10:43am

David Aaronovitch is forced to start a debate on democracy by defining some of democracie's variants, surely that demonstrates straight away that it's a less than ideal concept?

Marco_Pomo_1984 on 02/03/2012 3:58pm

Dunbar's point about political success and height seems a little ridiculous. What about Napoleon?!

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