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Fostering Deliberative Democracy Is support for democracy in the West being lost to alternative models?

The Professor

Most of us probably go through periods of serious scepticism regarding the nature and practice of democratic government. Indeed, having lived and worked in Singapore for a spell during the ‘reign’ of Lee Kuan Yew, I found myself pontificating, at times, on the benefits of ‘benevolent despotism’. In the present climate of ‘fake news’, turbulent populism, relentless advocacy, ‘echo chamber’ debate, dialogue mostly among the like-minded, and massive spending to manipulate public opinion, there is the grave danger of heightening that scepticism and heralding the role of absolutist leaders.

Divided Times.

In his important and controversial book The People Versus Democracy, (2018), Yasha Mounk provides evidence of a significant decline in support for democracy in most Western countries, and a growing openness, including amongst the young, to alternative and more authoritarian models. He argues that the populism he terms ‘democratic illiberalism’ should be seen as a response to the undemocratic liberalism of the late 20th century which saw power held in the hands of unaccountable technocrats and a self-serving elite. There is a current tendency to conflate authoritarianism and populism, even though the latter ostensibly commits itself to democracy. Authoritarianism, however is what frequently results from the inevitable failure of populists in power to deliver their simple blazoned solutions.

What Democracy Needs Now.

The Professor

About John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe is President of The Futures Academy, which he founded in 2000, and a Fellow of Oxford Brookes University. Until 2009, he was a Director of the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he remains as Professor Emeritus. In the past, he has served as: Secretary-General of the World Futures Studies Federation; Vice-President of the European Futurists Conference; Chairman of the London Branch of the RICS, and first Chair of the Institution’s International Policy Committee; and, Chairman of the European Policy and Practice Committee for the Urban Land Institute. A prolific author and public orator, he has acted as a consultant to countries, cities, corporations, colleges and communities in the area of Strategic Foresight, and is currently conducting several projects in the fields of: “Cities of Tomorrow”; “Future Horizons for Global Real Estate”; and, “Anticipatory Leadership”. Familiarly, his favourite adage is Einstein’s: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Articles by John Ratcliffe

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