Friday, March 08, 2024

Five of the best books about democracy in crisis

Rafael Behr is a Guardian columnist and leader writer. He was formerly a correspondent in the Baltic region and Russia. He is the author of Politics: A Survivor's Guide.

At the Guardian he writes about
the permacrisis – a state of perpetual turbulence that folds geopolitical tension into cultural polarisation and spins it all around in a furious vortex. It can feel like being knocked over in the sea, unsure which way is up, afraid that another wave will strike the moment you breach the surface.
Behr says the "usual political narratives aren’t adequate to explain what is happening." He recommends five books that "go deeper," including:
The Other Pandemic by James Ball

We are so used to describing trends online as going viral that the medical inference of the metaphor is easily forgotten. In telling the story of QAnon – a deranged mega-conspiracy theory – from its organic genesis in niche chatrooms to its infection of the Republican party mainstream, James Ball diagnoses a terrifying pathology in the body politic. It is also a parable of radicalisation and the appeal of irrational belief, explaining the evangelical potency of so many extreme movements. Digital technology is disrupting politics as thoroughly as television, railways, the printing press and every other communications revolution in history. It might be bigger than all of them rolled into one. Seeing how it sickens democracy is a good place to start thinking about how to make it better.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue