Is populism a poison or a cure for democracy, or both, depending on the circumstances?
Louis Boilly/Wikipedia Commons
We’re not sure if the cure, the populist outsider, will work and make life better. but we are willing to experiment as the old certainties of representative politics wither.
Voters might be quite rational in refusing to give the green light to those who wield power and benefit from the status quo.
Ambivalence among voters is reason to think about how democracy is working for us as a community. To keep democracy alive we need to be sceptical about the exercise of power and keep it in check.
Populism celebrates laypeople without offering them any real autonomy or integrity.
The only exceptional leaders we need today are the ones who help us to govern and take care of ourselves.
Can we avert a populist apocalypse through good old-fashioned deliberation?
Populist politics would appear to have left deliberative democracy by the wayside, but innovations that engage citizens in reasoned decision-making have much to offer.
The Indian people felt a moral obligation to queue up and co-operate with the ‘notes ban’ policy.
Public co-operation is not proof of trust in government. The Indian people did not trust elected politicians to represent them against top-down policymaking that caused enormous difficulties.
Could a randomly selected tree make a better president than Donald Trump?
If people are starting to look much worse in democratic terms, trees are starting to look much better. We are learning that plants engage in meaningful and, more to the point, truthful communication.
A polarising election issue in Western Australia, the Roe 8 project illustrates the need for better and more democratic decision-making.
One reason Perth's Roe 8 project is the subject of passionate protests is that it's a case of a government asserting power over people rather than exercising power with local communities.
Donald Trump’s reinvention of the royal fiat as rule-by-tweet, or ‘twiat’, is anti-democratic and needs to be resisted.
Donald Trump is reinventing the royal fiat by novel means: the rule-by-tweet, or 'twiat'. This move is not an extension of popular democracy, but its enemy, and it needs to be resisted.
Just say no! Tyranny depends on mass subservience.
The origin of tyrannical power is irrelevant: whether by election, inheritance or force, if rulership is oppressive, it is tyrannical. And the way to beat it is deceptively simple: refuse to comply.
Graffiti on a wall in Sana'a, Yemen, denounces US drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus once observed that Persian rulers indulged the habit of getting drunk when making important decisions. When sober and sensible next morning, their custom was to reconsider…
What do you call a democracy that depends on the exclusion of whole groups from political participation?
Democracy today contains within itself impulses towards both inclusion and exclusion. Spinoza's thinking on aristocracy should alert us to how democratic rule by the people can be hollowed out.
The Labour elite doesn’t think Jeremy Corbyn has what it takes to make it in Westminster.
Labour reformers toyed with the image of democratic participation without realising what it would actually lead to – a democratic debate. But the next step is not to backpedal against democracy.
Shifts in our communication infrastructures have reshaped the very possibilities of social order driven by markets and commercial exploitation.
Capitalism has become focused on expanding the proportion of social life that is open to data collection and processing – as if the social itself has become the new target of capitalism’s expansion.
Tea Party supporters have been demanding to be heard for a long time.
We are witnessing the global rise of populism. Once seen as a fringe phenomenon from another era or only certain parts of the world, populism is a mainstay of politics today across the globe.
Others might be more inspired by American democracy if the US were widely seen to be a just and tolerant society and its leading politicians were not loudmouthed xenophobes.
The value of democracy needs to be restated and defended, rather than presumed. In doing so, there is value in adopting a more tempered stance, one that understands its worth but also its flaws.
Do outdated fantasies of anarchism simply play into the agendas of the rich and privileged? Nuit debout in Paris, 2016.
Today’s anarchists should give up the fantasy of 'abolishing the state'. That simply plays into the agenda of the rich and privileged.
‘Ownness’ is a form of freedom that profanes institutions and acts as though power no longer exists. The Berlin Wall, November 1989.
Between institutional collapse and false promises of utopia, people seek to define their own lives and their relations with others by thinking and acting as though power no longer existed.
Anarchism’s opposition to arbitrary power is often militant, but liberty is no simple thing.
Liberty is a political matter bound up with institutionalised struggles for equality among individuals, groups, networks and organisations. This is where the cult of the free individual falls down.
Anarchists once took constitutionalism very seriously and might well do so again to develop radical decision-making practices.
If anarchists reject private property and the state, they need to devise alternative, radical practices of power-sharing. Republican constitutionalism offers one way to think about this.
The people in a democracy can be likened to the cells in a jellyfish.
Mike Johnston/Wikipedia Commons
If democracy were an animal, which one would it be? This short play, set in an Australian pub, explores this question to contrast ways we understand democracy and our roles within it.