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VIDEO | America: A ‘Democratic Empire’ In Decline?

At the Byron Bay Writers Festival, in conversation with Griffith Review Editor Julianne Schultz, Professor John Keane talks about the rise and fall of democracies and empires, from a primarily historical perspective.

From the very first Platonic democracy of Ancient Greece, Keane argues, through the ages of the civil rights movement, apartheid, the women’s vote, through to the world’s first black president, the institution of Democracy has aided civilization in avoiding hubris. It has also helped to humble power and, as Churchill liked to say, democracy is still “the best weapon we have against stupidity.”

Keane argues that democracy is not only practiced in the parliament but, since 1945, has become increasingly involved at the grass roots, whereby the citizen is more inclined to have her say via diverse power-scrutinizing, problem-solving groups, such as online monitoring agencies.

The flipside of all this monitoring, he argues, is that politicians are more fearful of their public. – Australian Broadcasting Corporation

John Keane is an Australian-born British political theorist. Educated at the Universities of Adelaide, Toronto and Cambridge, Keane is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney. He still spends some of his time as visiting professor there. In 1989, Keane founded the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster. In recent years, Keane has held the Karl Deutsch Professorship in Berlin and served as Gavron Fellow of the think-tank, Institute for Public Policy Research.

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