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Editorial: Democracy in Crisis

Have we lost faith in democracy?

Editorial 27 ii

The more secure our democracy, the more we take it for granted. Over the last 40 years, voter turn-out has been on the slide in the established democracies of America, Japan, and Western Europe. Membership of political parties is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, activists are increasingly taking to the internet, and to the streets. As the UK gears up for a General Election in May, are we witnessing the death throes of democracy?

In the battle for votes, Cameron and Miliband are waging war over the centre ground, and so-called fringe parties such as UKIP and the Greens claim to be on the rise. But is the real political action now taking place elsewhere? Russell Brand has nearly six times as many followers as Cameron, Milliband and Clegg put together. What does this say about the state of politics today? Once the mainstay of Western liberal philosophy, have we lost faith in democracy?

In this issue of IAI News, anthropologist Scott Atran argues that liberal democracy is a salvational ideology just like any religion. Voter apathy points to a global crisis of values. Meanwhile, author and activist Beatrix Campbell believes we’re living in a neoliberal neo-patriarchy. It’s time, she argues, for a gender revolution.

Carl Miller and Alex Krasodomski-Jones of thinktank Demos argue that party-political membership has been replaced by online activism. But how will this affect the general election? Philosopher and author Jamie Whyte says it won’t matter: no politician is able to offer an alternative to big government. Political parties are different coatings on a doughnut, he says; they don’t change the underlying policy dough. Does this spell the end of democracy?

Elsewhere, philosopher Steve Fuller questions the origins of science’s search for simplicity and writer Pat Kane unpicks the "radical animal": humanity.

 

Image credit: vgm8383

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