Democracy is in crisis. This is a crisis of growth on the one hand, with the Arab Spring and possible change in Burma and elsewhere, but also a crisis of alienation and stagnation in the more established democracies, in the United States and in Europe, where apathy and the uncontrolled power exerted by financial markets and the wealthy are threatening the core of democratic effectiveness and democratic values. We can no longer take democracy for granted, if we ever could, because it is both more powerful and widespread than it has ever been, and more under threat.
This short book, of about 25,000 words, spells out the basic characteristics of modern-day democracy, its origins, its history, its current practice and problems, and its potential future.
Steven Beller is a Visiting Scholar at George Washington University, Washington DC, and a former Research Fellow in History at Peterhouse College, Cambridge.