Is there life after democracy?

I have pondered over this for some time, I am glad someone with better credentials than I is finally addressing it. ‘While we’re still arguing about whether there’s life after death, can we add another question to the cart? Is there life after democracy?’ asks Arundhati Roy in this introduction to her new collection of essays. ‘What sort of life will it be? By democracy I don’t mean democracy as an ideal or an aspiration. I mean the working model: Western liberal democracy, and its variants, such as they are.’

Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy

So, is there life after democracy?

Attempts to answer this question often turn into a comparison of different systems of governance, and end with a somewhat prickly, combative defence of democracy. It’s flawed, we say. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than everything else that’s on offer. Inevitably, someone in the room will say: ‘Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia . . . is that what you would prefer?’

Whether democracy should be the utopia that all ‘developing’ societies aspire to be is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn’t meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It’s meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy—too much representation, too little democracy—needs some structural adjustment.

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Is Belief in Richard Dawkins Necessary for Salvation?

Terry Eagleton
Terry Eagleton

Terry Eagleton delivers the 2008 Dwight H. Terry Lectures at Yale on Faith and Fundamentalism.

Terry Eagleton, John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester, has been a Fellow of four Oxford and Cambridge colleges and has held the Thomas Warton Chair of English Literature at the University of Oxford. Professor Eagleton has authored scores of studies of literary, cultural, and political criticism and written plays for both stage and television in Britain and Ireland, as well as a screenplay for Derek Jarman’s film Wittgenstein. Terry Eagleton is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Faith and Fundamentalism: Is Belief in Richard Dawkins Necessary for Salvation?

April 1, 2008     Christianity: Fair and Foul

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