Democracies can fail as clearly and badly as other forms of regime. It is important to recognize frankly how they can and why they then do. To do so is a precondition for identifying realistically why they can succeed in ways no other sorts of regime can and what exactly can enable them to so. To see why democracy succeeds or fails one must first recognize what democracy is. All governments govern with varying skill and dedication in face of the challenges of their society. Democracy is not a reliable chooser of skill or dedication. The challenges, which face every regime in the world today, are huge and urgent. Democracy can fail like any other regime in face of most of these challenges. It fails especially thoroughly when it fails to educate its own citizens. In democracies citizens choose or reject those who lead them. They give power and they take it away. For democracy to succeed its citizens must do each widely and they must be lucky in the choices they have to make.
About the Speaker
Emeritus Professor of Political Theory at King’s College, Cambridge, John Dunn has spent the last 25 years tracing the complex trajectory of democracy, as an idea and as a practice. Professor Dunn’s work focuses on applying a historical perspective to modern political theory. His early reputation was based upon the careful reconstruction of the political thought of John Locke.
One of the founders of the Cambridge School of Political Thought, today he is recognized as one of the foremost theorists in Europe, being chosen as one of only 3 political philosophers in John Naughton’s list of Britain’s top intellectuals. His books include titles such as “The Cunning of Unreason” and “Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy”.
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