About the book, from the publisher:
Citizens around the world have become distrustful of politicians, skeptical about democratic institutions, and disillusioned about the capacity of democratic politics to resolve pressing social concerns. Many feel as if something has gone seriously wrong with democracy.Learn more about Defending Politics at the Oxford University Press website.
Defending Politics meets this contemporary pessimism about the political process head on. In doing so, it aims to cultivate a shift from the negativity that appears to dominate public life towards a more buoyant and engaged "politics of optimism." Matthew Flinders makes an unfashionable but incredibly important argument of utmost simplicity: democratic politics delivers far more than most members of the public appear to acknowledge and understand. If more and more people are disappointed with what modern democratic politics delivers, is it possible that the fault lies with those who demand too much, fail to acknowledge the essence of democratic engagement, and ignore the complexities of governing in the twentieth century? Is it possible that the public in many advanced liberal democracies have become "democratically decadent," that they take what democratic politics delivers for granted? Would politics appear in a better light if we all spent less time emphasizing our individual rights and more time reflecting on our responsibilities to society and future generations?
Democratic politics remains "a great and civilizing human activity...something to be valued almost as a pearl beyond price," Bernard Crick stressed in his classic In Defense of Politics fifty years ago. By returning to and updating Crick's arguments, this book provides an honest account of why democratic politics matters and why we need to reject the arguments of those who would turn their backs on "mere politics" in favor of more authoritarian, populist or technocratic forms of governing.
Matthew Flinders is Professor of Parliamentary Government & Governance at the University of Sheffield.
The Page 99 Test: Defending Politics.