Is Democracy Dying?

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19th August 2009, 03:38pm - Views: 740

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Press Release

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Is democracy dead?

“Are the failures of our age the harbingers of a trend to ‘post-democracy’?”

This is one of the disturbing questions raised in the new full-scale history of democracy by

Professor John Keane to be launched on Tuesday 25 August.  

Keane notes the hopeful flourishing of digital democracy, but also the emergence of a form of

politics in which governments claim to represent majorities that are no more than artefacts of the

media, money, organisation and force of arms.

The use of clever spin tactics, back-channel public relations, Berlusconi-style mass media

populism, flat earth news, cyber-attacks, online gate keeping, publicity bombs and organised

silence by unaccountable sources of power are just some of the signs of “rigor mortis in the

democratic body politic”, Keane observes.

The collapse of newspaper business models has also been accompanied by a trend toward media

decadence, where journalists hunt in packs for bad news, egged on by newsroom rules that

demand titillation, sensationalism and exaggerated personalities in place of time-bound contexts.   

In his only public address in Sydney on his current world speaking tour, Professor Keane will

launch his new book, The Life and Death of Democracy published by Simon & Schuster, in the

NSW Parliament House Theatrette, hosted by the Evatt Foundation.  

Professor Keane will be introduced by the Foundation’s President, Dr Christopher Sheil.

About the author:

Australian-born John Keane is Professor of Politics and the University of Westminster and a

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Founder of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, his other

books include Global Civil Society (2004), Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts (1990)

and the prize-winning biography Tom Paine: A Political Life (1995, 2009). 

Further information:

Author: Anabel Pandiella: 0421 455 228 or email:

Evatt Foundation (including bookings): 8090 1170 or Dianne Hiles: 0425 244 667 or Fay

Gervasoni: 0418 207308 or email

Event details: 5.30 p.m. for 6.45 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., Tuesday 25 August 2009, NSW Parliament

House Theatrette, Macquarie Street, Sydney.

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