“Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” So said Winston S. Churchill, at the House of Commons on 11th November 1947. At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama thought that Western liberal democracy would become the universal form of government. This point of view seems quite idealistic today, as democracy is facing many threats. Here is a selection by Catherine Brendow.
Government by the people, for the people…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the most famous Genevans, published his famous treatise The Social Contract in 1762, asserting the principle of people’s sovereignty. 70 years (and a revolution) later, a young French aristocrat travelled to America to understand better the meaning of it.
Democracy requires a lot: a vibrant civil society, respect for the people who do not share your points of view, time and the will to come to an agreement… At a time of growing polarization, when many countries face daunting challenges like climate change, pandemics or terrorism, it can appear as a dispensable luxury. But people who have lived under a dictatorship for 15 years can feel so happy when they finally have the opportunity to say “no”, like in Chile in 1988.
Difficult times ahead
Today, everyone claims to be a democrat, but some are “illiberal democrats”. People and democracy no longer get well together, and both sides are at fault. Populists are hijacking the democratic discourse, money has probably become too powerful, and neoliberalism has a complicated relationship with democracy, too. Anti-terrorist policies have reduced civil liberties. Facebook and social media form an additional threat. And artificial intelligence will create new challenges…
The dedicated call number in our collection: 321.7 – Democracy.
These titles and more are on display at the entrance of the Library during Democracy Week. Have a look and borrow whichever catches your eye! The programme for Democracy Week is also available on our website.
Don’t have a DVD player? Borrow a portable DVD player from our services.