Beasts and Gods: How Democracy Changed Its Meaning and Lost Its Purpose (Paperback)Roslyn Fuller (author)
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Democracy does not deliver on the things we have assumed are its natural outcomes. This, coupled with a growing sense of malaise in both new and established democracies forms the basis to the assertion made by some, that these are not democracies at all.
Through considerable, impressive empirical analysis of a variety of voting methods, across twenty different nations, Roslyn Fuller presents the data that makes this contention indisputable. Proving that the party which forms the government rarely receives the majority of the popular vote, that electoral systems regularly produce manufactured majorities and that the better funded side invariably wins such contests in both elections and referenda, Fuller's findings challenge the most fundamental elements of both national politics and broader society.
Beast and Gods argues for a return to democracy as perceived by the ancient Athenians. Boldly arguing for the necessity of the Aristotelian assumption that citizens are agents whose wishes and aims can be attained through participation in politics, and through an examination of what "goods" are provided by democracy, Fuller offers a powerful challenge to the contemporary liberal view that there are no "goods" in politics, only individual citizens seeking to fulfil their particular interests.
Publisher: Zed Books Ltd
Number of pages: 424
Weight: 612 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 138 mm
'A visionary thought experiment...guaranteed to make you think differently about the trillion dollar bureaucracies we call democracy today.'
`Beasts and Gods provides a fascinating contrast between democracy in theory and democracy in practice. It deconstructs the assumptions underlying representative democracy, and debunks the fiction that modern elections are "free and fair". This provocative book draws on lessons from ancient Greece, while advocating direct democracy by decoupling economics from politics.'
Marjorie Cohn, professor of law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
`Beasts and Gods is a timely and provocative look behind the cliches of Western politics. It recognises that government of the people, by the people, is not what our current democracies feel like to most of their citizens. Fuller returns to the roots of democracy in classical republican practice and rediscovers the sources of the renewal that is urgently required. Her optimism makes this not just a challenging book but a heartening one.'
Fintan O'Toole, deputy editor, Irish Times
`Every now and then Modern society throws up someone who questions its most cherished myths. The how and why of it deserves a book in its own right. Roslyn Fuller is one such, and, in this work, she takes on a holy cow, Democracy, that the West loves to believe it invented (like all good things). She is a young scholar, but gifted with the right intuition, attitude, and talent to take it on, full frontal, from A to Z. As such the book is a refreshing, and highly timely, tour de force, putting both conventional apologetics and hoary critiques to shame. It dares us to rethink the myth, and perhaps even to, finally, infuse some real content to it - before we are all entrapped in irreversible Oligarchy.'
Rajani Kanth, Harvard University
`Everyone interested in rethinking democracy in the digital age should read this book. The old ways of governing are dying, and Beasts and Gods offers timely and provocative ideas on how to finally make people power a reality.'
Micah Sifry, author of Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency
`Fuller takes the much needed leap from pointing out what's wrong with our democracies to proposing a parallel system based on democracy's original foundations. It's a strong reminder that democracy is and must always be a work in progress, or it won't be a democracy at all.'
Pia Mancini, democracy activist and co-founder of DemocracyOS
`Fuller's is a timely book, laying out the myriad problems with modern democracy in plain English. Anyone concerned with the lack of participation in our modern democracies must read this.'
Jillian York, director of International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation
'There is no doubting the timeliness of Fuller's contribution to the ongoing debates over the future of democratic government.'
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