Politics in Minutes (2016)

Power to the people

By the end of the 20th century, it seemed that the dream of government of, by and for the people was about to be universally realized. But the reality has proved rather different. In the 21st century, there is a widespread feeling that power still remains with an elite, the product of the free-market economics adopted by liberal democracies. In the global recession following the financial crisis of 2008, there was an increasing distrust of politicians (of all parties) who were seen as colluding with big business, and a disconnect between government and the wishes of the people.

Democracy, it seems, has not been achieved, and possibly always will remain an unattainable goal. The cynical view is that representative democracy is the best of a poor choice of political systems, and that the majority of people are happy to delegate responsibility for managing the state to an elected few. Besides, even in the most egalitarian societies, some form of leadership always emerges.

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The political economist Francis Fukuyama dubbed what he saw as the culmination of social and economic evolution to an ideal political system, ‘the end of history’.