Can Democracy Cope?
Version of Record online: 24 OCT 2011
© The Author 2011. The Political Quarterly © The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd. 2011
The Political Quarterly
Volume 82, Issue 4, pages 536–545, October-December 2011
How to Cite
RUNCIMAN, D. (2011), Can Democracy Cope?. The Political Quarterly, 82: 536–545. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-923X.2011.02260.x
- Issue online: 24 OCT 2011
- Version of Record online: 24 OCT 2011
- Cited By
- ‘end of history’;
The success story of democracy over the twentieth century has given way to doubts in the twenty-first, as democracies struggle to cope with difficult wars, mounting debts, climate change and the rise of China. This essay uses intellectual history to explain the link between long-term democratic success and short-term democratic failure. It distinguishes three distinct views of what can go wrong with democracy, and identifies the third (which I call ‘the confidence trap’, an idea that originates with Tocqueville) as the key to understanding our present predicament. Democratic success creates blind spots and a reluctance to tackle long-term problems. I use this idea to explain and put in context Fukuyama's claims about the end of history, and to examine the link between democratic failure and market failure.