The truth is out: we don’t need politicians to govern us any more. We can fix our broken politics and create a democracy fit for the twenty-first century without them.
The information revolution is disrupting every aspect of society. Newspaper sales plummet. Television watching declines. Book publishing is being transformed. Networks expand and proliferate throughout our workplaces and our everyday lives. Politics is also in line for a major disruption. The new norms of participation, inclusiveness and open communication are infiltrating democracy and the era of politicians is coming to an end. The time is ripe to remake democracy for the twenty-first century.
This succinct, inspiring, and carefully researched book outlines how to fix our broken politics. Combining jaw-dropping insights from the history of democracy with a critical understanding of the current information revolution, it explains how a real democracy would eliminate politicians and replace them with a representative network of randomly selected, ordinary citizens. The surprising evidence from the many recent citizens’ assemblies is that they work: ordinary people can and do make good, informed, and balanced decisions. The tantalising possibility that we can govern ourselves has presented itself – it’s time for the end of politicians.
Darn! This is the book I wish I had written. Compelling, inspiring, evidence-based. Hennig explains how democracy got us into this mess, and how we can fix it.
– Professor Lyn Carson, The University of Sydney, Director of the newDemocracy Foundation
Do you believe holding elections every couple of years means you live in a democracy? Short, powerfully argued and carefully researched, Hennig shows how elections have for a long time been known to serve the interests of the powerful – and how ordinary citizens can regain control of their government.
– Professor Manuel Arriaga, New York University, author of Rebooting Democracy: A Citizen's Guide to Reinventing Politics
Hennig takes stock of democracy in the past and present. His bold assessment will enable us to step out of the shadows of the political elite. Hennig does not stop there, however. In a fast-forward to the future, he outlines ways and systems that will make the dream of democracy come true. This book is an energy drink for social action.
– Dr Bettina Wittneben, Research Associate, University of Oxford
The End of Politicians provides a powerful critique of the democratic deficits inherent in all forms of electoral democracy. But it does much more than explore the undemocratic qualities of electoral democracy; it proposes a compelling and provocative alternative – the random selection of ordinary citizens to serve as fully empowered legislators. Whether one agrees with this or not, the clarity of the argument will generate productive debate.
– Professor Erik Olin Wright, University of Wisconsin–Madison, author of Envisioning Real Utopias
Hennig has the right idea: Democracy requires innovation at any age, but especially this one. The End of Politicians doesn't call for an end to politics, but rather to antiquated institutions over-reliant on a small number of elected leaders. That system brought us this far, but Hennig reviews many of the alternatives that are already reshaping governance, by injecting the wider public back into public life – not as a mobilized mob, but through more deliberative bodies. Reading this book gives a glimpse of what's already changing and what lies on – or just beyond – the horizon of democratic political reform.
- Professor John Gastil, Penn State University, author of Democracy in Small Groups
On 30 January, 1649, King Charles I of England mounted a platform at Whitehall in London, in front of thousands of spectators, and placed his head on a chopping block before a masked executioner. Not only was he about to die, but the idea that kings had a divine right to rule was also about to take a lethal blow. After the axe descended and blood spurted across the platform, his decapitated head was held high for all to see. The belief that power relations were God-given, that specific people were destined to rule by divine providence, would never again go unquestioned.
The execution occurred half a century after Charles’s father, James VI of Scotland, later to be crowned King James I of England, had explicitly invoked the divine right of kings to justify the absolute power of monarchs. In The True Law of Free Monarchies James I deduced, from a creative interpretation of the Bible, that kings were “higher” beings than other men. Many rulers, before and since, have sought to legitimise their position of power through a variety of claims – the theory of “divine right” was just one such attempt.
Almost a century and a half after Charles’s execution the secondary idea that lineage and dint of birth, at least for the first born son, bestowed legitimacy on a ruler also died – this time under the executioner’s guillotine instead of his axe. In Paris on 21 January, 1793, Louis XVI mounted a scaffold in Place de la Révolution and was beheaded. Afterwards the Reign of Terror would see tens of thousands of the French nobility and aristocracy, and other political opponents, executed as “enemies” of the French Revolution.Read more...
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