“Must Politics Disappoint” defends the place of politics in the 21st century. However, politics, it argues, has not yet adapted to the challenges of the mass democratic age.
In order to curb the disappointment, Meg Russell proposes a new set of principles which politicians, the media, and the public must follow if we are to regain the trust in the political process.
Forty years since Bernard Crick wrote his classic In Defence of Politics, Meg Russell takes on the challenge of defending politics for the twenty-first century. The dangers facing today’s democracies are not those identified by Crick at the height of the cold war. In place of totalitarianism and ideology we are now threatened by consumerism, a hostile media and the culture of the permanent campaign – apparently soft challenges which in fact put the space of politics under great pressure, threatening to corrode the relationship between the citizen and the state.
Russell argues that politics has not yet adapted to the challenges of the mass democratic age. Rather than attempting to govern markets, politics has been led by them; rather than curbing the excesses of the press, politicians have pandered to it; and rather than conveying their values to the public, politicians have allowed single issue groups to dictate policy. Above all, politicians have failed to act as effective advocates for the political system itself. In order to curb the disappointment, Russell proposes a new set of principles which politicians, the media – and the public – must follow if we are to regain trust in the political process. Written with wit, clarity and great insight, this is truly a defence of politics for our time.
You can buy a printed copy edition of Must Politics Disappoint? for £6.95, plus £1 p+p, by phoning the Fabian Society bookshop on 020 7227 4900, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cheque payable to “The Fabian Society” to 11 Dartmouth Street, London, SW1H 9BN.