Democracy and the delusion of longtermism

Democracy is increasingly under threat. In Britain, 94% of voters believe their views are not the main influence behind government decisions, and frighteningly similar trends seem to be emerging around the world. In this exclusive interview, former supreme court justice Lord Jonathan Sumption argues that the greatest threats to democracy are not what people usually think. He also argues that ‘long-termism’, the view popularised by Will MacAskill which suggests that policy should be orientated to the next million years, rather than just the next generation, is utterly untenable and could sow the seed for despotism.

 

You have said that the greatest threats to democracy are not major catastrophes, like wars, but smaller scale crises. Why?

You have major catastrophic events in the history of this country like the Second World War. Britain turned itself into a temporary dictatorship with many ordinary civil rights suspended for the durat

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