The primal heart of twenty-first century democracy
We think without question that our democracy is ‘modern’. How could the default political system of the twenty-first century be otherwise? Rivals such as communism that once threatened to usurp it have been comprehensively defeated. So democracy claims to be the final resting point of centuries of Western political progress.
But democracy’s triumph has made it a Narcissus. Without a rival or opposing critique, it stares at its own reflection and finds no flaws. As a result, it has no coherent lens through which to explain the deep problems that are now evident within it. These include record low levels of public support for democracy, low election turnouts and a fracturing of support for major political parties. Its myopic line of sight likewise struggles to account for the failure of its institutions to address the big challenges of our time, such as climate change and inequality.
So like every Narcissus, it blames others. Democracy is not at fault; instead individual politicians and their intensifying obsession with short-term politicking is killing good decision-making and destroying democracy’s authority. Inane sloganeering and sound bites are dumbing down debate and widening an increasingly bitter partisan divide. No wonder consensus, let alone sensible action on any major policy challenge, has become impossible.
Most of us take up this argument on democracy’s behalf because we find it hard to fathom how a political system that defines ‘Western civilisation’ can be going so awry. Globalisation and the internet have enabled us as citizens to know more, probe more critically and generally expect more from our politicians. Yet their vistas seem to be simultaneously shrinking and retreating. What we get is a political class that appears profoundly disconnected and increasingly infantile, full of sound and fury yet signifying nothing.
Who is to blame?
The personal shortcomings and weaknesses of our elected representatives undoubtedly contribute to democracy’s current malaise. But fixing its deepening flaws may not be as simple as ‘fixing’ the quality of our elected representatives. After all, flawed politicians with imperfect motivations have always been part and parcel of a political system that Winston Churchill famously described as ‘the worst form of government except for all the others’.
Yet democracy’s disconnect with its citizens is now so widespread and defines so many democratic cultures and countries that we have clearly reached a tipping point. So we need to look for deeper, more systemic explanations. Let’s consider for a moment that Narcissus is no longer beautiful. Instead, like Dorian Gray’s portrait, democracy’s past has rapidly caught up with it and made it ugly. Individual politicians and their foibles are just the brushstrokes on a bigger picture that is ageing before our eyes.
This does not mean, as some commentators suggest, that we should cast off democracy as a system of governance unfit for the twenty-first century. Individual freedom and justice are now the most desired and universal of human goals (perhaps more than at any previous time). Only democracy and democratic values can deliver on these aspirations. Again, this is why we should think more strategically about problems of and possible solutions for contemporary democracy.
Let’s start with first principles. What is democracy and how does it work? There are number of ways to ‘deliver’ democracy. Yet it is rarely acknowledged that the vast majority of democracies around the world are a distinctive delivery mechanism of democracy. This mechanism is called ‘liberal democracy’.
The institutions, processes and protocols of liberal democracy are rooted in distinctive historical origins. Yet these origins are obscured by the idea that ‘democracy’ is universal and timeless, that it is above history and historical context. Therefore it should be immune from history’s influence and impacts.
The reality, however, is that the machinery of liberal democracy is derived and organised around eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political ideals and principles. These ideas and principles were conceived by elite males who believed that democracy should be organised and delivered to citizens in a certain, limited way. Its main organising principles were as follows:
- A citizen’s input into the democratic process should be mainly limited to casting a single vote in mass elections every two, three or so years.
- Citizens are not informed enough to make decisions about complex policy and political issues. So they must delegate their voice to elected representatives who know more about these issues and can speak on their behalf.
- Parliaments are the ‘command centres’ of liberal democracy because this is where elected representatives speak and act on behalf of citizens, decide on important issues and pass legislation to give effect to these decisions.
- Political parties (albeit a latter development in the evolution of liberal democracy) are the best way to serve the political needs and wants of citizens because they offer encompassing political programs that consistently and accurately capture and represent these needs.
These organising principles represent a traditional if not ‘old’ view of the world. This is a world that is ordered in a fixed, hierarchical way, where information is scarce and a small elite have most of the capacity and intellect to decide on matters of the public interest. A world where the scope for ordinary people to feed their individual views directly and quickly into the political debate should be strictly limited.
These principles are embedded in liberal democracy’s cornerstone institutions—namely mass elections, parliaments and mass political parties. Some might argue that liberal democracy’s architecture has morphed and adapted in plenty of ways over the past hundred years or so.
But these represent comparatively small changes to protocol and procedure. The core institutions and processes in most liberal democracies have not departed very far from the way liberal democracy worked a hundred or more years ago. Moreover, thanks to constitutional cement that is a feature of most liberal democracies, reform or change is very rare.
A system out of sync
Ours is an era of unprecedented disruption. Globalisation and rapid advances in digital technology over the past quarter of a century have radically transformed the way economies produce and consume, the way our societies interact and evolve, and the way we, as individuals, communicate and view the world around us.
Traditional hierarchies and power structures have been disrupted. Knowledge in the digital world is no longer a scare resource. The speed with which economic and social activity is created and transmitted, upending established practice, is unprecedented. So the question is this: why should liberal democracy and its institutions be immune from the impacts of this period of profound disruption? Should not liberal democracy be particularly prone to disruption given its core institutions have barely altered in a century or more?
Arguing otherwise means assuming that liberal democracy—being above history and its forces—is immune to or able to weather any change, not matter how disruptive. That brings us to the standard claim that responsibility for democracy’s present malaise rests with increasingly incompetent politicians, not a disconnected, failing system.
A cursory examination of the three core institutions of liberal democracy—parliaments, political parties and mass elections—tells us why it is not immune. These institutions—and the political system they underpin—are becoming an epicentre of dysfunction and disconnect.
Parliaments and parties
Liberal democracy continues to organise its decision-making on behalf of citizens around the structures and processes of parliaments. These seek to be forums of lengthy, deliberative debate and considered advocacy by our elected representatives—from which considered policy and political decisions are agreed upon and turned into law.
But the internal clock that sets and regulates parliamentary debate and decision-making is set to a languid time gone by: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Proposed legislation requires layers and layers of argument and review over days, weeks and months before it becomes action.
The tortoise-like speed of parliament’s processes and protocols cannot keep up with the pace of events that defines the internet age. No wonder parliament and politicians are seen as too slow to act, and out of touch. When they do rouse themselves, they appear too obsessed with the here and now to make the long-term decisions needed to manage a complex world.
As we noted earlier, liberal democracy organises the representation and input of citizens into democratic decision-making through mass political parties. We are offered a contest between two or three main political parties whose policy and political program are fixed along a continuum of left–right ideology.
But how can political parties capture and retain lasting blocs of voter support in a world where ideology now has little relevance or meaning to most people? The answer is that they are increasingly failing to reach the core objective of stable parliamentary majorities, as reflected in the rise of minor parties and independents. Thus the inability of major parties to get the consensus and support to have their political programs consistently enacted (hence the increasingly common failure of liberal democracy to achieve anything of much significance).
Declining support for the major parties explains the growing pattern of volatile voting swings as well as the emerging trend of one-term governments as voters switch their support more rapidly between major and micro parties as well as independents. It explains the futility of governments claiming, and expecting to be believed, they have a mandate to govern for all. All this results in an incoherent merry-go-round of shifting policies, governments and leaders who chase elusive voter support with increasingly ad hoc short-term promises, rather than setting down long-term consistent and coherent policy programs for change.
Are we to continue to limit our formal input as citizens to casting a single vote in a mass election? Who thinks our politicians can accurately represent our political wants and needs in exchange for us ticking a voting paper and having our heads counted every three or four years? Who seriously believes that in the age of the internet and instantaneous expertise that our politicians know so much more about the world that we should delegate our authority and voice to them? The short answer is, declining numbers of us. This is why trust in and engagement with politicians and governments across the democratic world is at record lows, and continuing to fall. That is why the public feel shut out from and distrustful of what now appears to be a patronising and hierarchical form of democracy.
The list of liberal democracy’s organising principles fundamentally out of synch with the new realities of a super-speed, fragmented and informed society go on and on. The detail of these disconnects can be documented over many pages.
Liberal democracy—unable to grasp the full extent of its decay and stasis—traps its politicians in a dysfunctional amber of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century institutions and world views. No wonder they seem impotent in action and irrelevant in style in today’s continually disrupted world. But let’s make a bigger jump. Let’s consider for a moment that liberal democracy’s contemporary disconnect has its origins well beyond the past two centuries. If Narcissus democracy gazes upon its reflection with a clear eye, it might see that its problems are also the result of a dark overhang from our evolutionary past.
The planks of this argument are as follows: primal behaviours are integral to every political system. This is because political systems are essentially about individuals competing for the most contested of scarce rewards—power, status and authority. The virtue of liberal democracy is that, when working as it should, its built-in checks and balances moderate and tame these baser instincts. In its way, democracy becomes the political equivalent of ‘civilisation’. But as the balancing institutions of liberal democracy break down due to their inability to meet new and urgent demands, its capacity to deliver functional, moderate governance withers.
Like most systems under great pressure from outside forces, liberal democracy retreats into itself. Behaviours and beliefs that wider society finds increasingly out of date are not only reinforced by this retreating system. They are held onto tightly by those within it as the norm. Thus the liberal democratic system not only fails to work in terms of delivering coherent policy, trust and engagement to its citizens. Politicians think and act in increasingly reactive, immoderate ways. All these trends coalesce to animate within our democracy the primal behaviours at the heart of all political systems. As our liberal democratic system fails, our politicians literally become more and more like political animals.
Political science has not incorporated much evolutionary science into its theorising. As a humanist discipline it largely rejects the view that humans are hostage to inherited behaviours. But with increasing light being shed by evolutionary science on the links between our evolutionary development and our everyday individual thinking and behaviour, perhaps it should.
Much of this cognitive evolution research gravitates to the micro: the primitive, animalistic drives that trigger our personal fears and desires. But from time to time it takes to a bigger, potentially more confronting picture, forcing us to think about the darkness and dysfunction hardwired into our most cherished and ‘civilised’ beliefs and institutions.
One such perspective is outlined in a book by US academic psychiatrist Hector Garcia published in 2014 called Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression. Garcia’s work presents a compelling critique of organised religion through the prism of evolutionary psychology. In particular he argues that organised religion is underpinned by a litany of negative, primal drives and dysfunctions. He goes on to document how this primal, often violent thinking and behaviour manifest themselves in religious belief and practice.
This thinking and behaviour, as we will see, bears an uncanny if not disturbing resemblance to the thinking and behaviour patterns that seem to be increasing in our political system. As a result, Garcia’s arguments potentially offer important insight on the causes of liberal democracy’s malaise and how we might fix it.
Garcia’s core assertion is that the idea of God is not a manifestation of some higher power that exists ‘out there’. Nor is God an idealistic representation of what we see as our better, higher selves. Rather humans have constructed the idea of God—and the various practices and protocols of sacred worship—to meet the deep and often negative emotional needs embedded into us by our evolutionary past.
Garcia’s reasoning is as follows: 99 per cent of our development as humans occurred outside the modern environment. Our basic cognitive machinery evolved in a social system dominated by ‘alpha’ male apes. They dominate such systems because their physical strength effectively protects the tribe in a world defined by violence. In return, the alpha ape demands complete allegiance. He commands by appealing to fear. Alpha ape defines the world in black and white terms. Those who question or threaten his dominant position are either expunged or violently dispatched. Having emerged from swamps and forests, humans are hardwired to reconstruct these basic psychological and emotional needs and identifications by ‘creating’ God. In short, the God construct mirrors that of alpha ape.
The world of alpha God is likewise one of unforgiving dualism. Alpha God demands absolute loyalty (‘you shall have no other gods than me’). The world is divided into ‘us’—the in-tribe of believers and adherents—and ‘them’ (‘whoever is not with me is against me’). Unbelievers threaten the tribe and must be expunged through violence, or proselytised through coercion or persuasion. Fear of being forsaken by God in a cold, unforgiving world is the negative glue that coheres allegiance and faith of followers (‘how blessed is everyone who fears the Lord’).
The world of the alpha God, like that of alpha ape, is fundamentally a man’s world. Women are essentially relegated to reproductive trinkets and cheerleaders. Dominant males enhance their status by increasing the number of attendant females surrounding them. Garcia is not talking about all organised religions. His focus is on religions that worship the Abrahamic gods (Judaism, Islam and Christianity). These are the gods that attract more than 50 per cent of world’s religious followers. They are also depicted by the scriptures and teachings of their relevant religions as despotic, male gods.
Today these gods are often presented by their followers in less oppressive ways. But consider the Middle East, the war on terror, or the religious-driven subjugation of hundreds of millions of women around the globe. These examples alone should tell us the seeds of the God construct remain firmly planted in the soil of violence, tribalism and sexism.
Evolution and alpha democracy
Garcia’s thesis is confronting because his arguments sensitise us to the regressive fault lines embedded in ‘civilising’ institutions that we like to think separate our thinking and behaviour from the animal world. So how is this linked to liberal democracy and its current problems?
The key point about Garcia’s thesis and evolutionary psychology more generally is this: if we accept that our evolutionary past continues profoundly to influence our belief systems and behaviours today, would not the same cognitive machinery have played a major role in influencing the way our democratic system evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? How can we ignore the proposition that the judgements and decisions of liberal democracy’s founding fathers (by definition exclusively ‘alpha’ men) were immune from the influences of the same alpha thinking if we largely accept they influence so much behaviour and thinking today? In short, while liberal democracy seeks to moderate and civilise politics and on the surface appears geared to peaceful debate, might not a primal heart—similar to that of organised religion’s and its built-in alpha behaviours—lie just below its surface?
Certainly, a predisposition to what might be called ‘political violence’ can be clearly detected within it. Parliament is arranged into ‘us’ and ‘them’—government on one side, opposition on the other side, and often includes crossbench members who sometimes support one side and sometimes the other. This dynamic, when functioning properly, draws out opposing arguments that can be melded into optimal legislative and policy outcomes.
But as liberal democracy—and parliaments in particular—becomes less able to keep up with and manage the world around it, political foes increasingly see parliament not as a forum for rational debate or achieving consensus. Instead parliament becomes a theatre of political war where processes and procedures that are meant to moderate debate (question time being a prime example) are used exclusively to bludgeon the other side into political submission or death.
All this is fed by a party system that organises and defines politics in terms and sharply differing, tribal-like ideologies and perspectives. Again, when working well, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ dynamic inherent in liberal democracy is a positive to sharpen and highlight basic points of policy difference between parties. Yet with parties less able to deliver on policy programs or establish their authority about policy change, politicians increasingly resort to partisanship and personalised attacks to underscore their differences.
This breakdown also gives increasing scope for unchecked alpha behaviour among leaders. The liberal democratic system is meant to disperse power and authority. Its doctrine of the separation of powers, where responsibilities and power are divided among the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, is a key facet of this notion.
But with the command centre of parliament continuing to be outpaced and rendered more and more impotent by rapid-fire communications and change, the power and authority of executive government (which includes prime ministers and their cabinets) is on the rise. The increasing imperative for quick, decisive decision-making accounts for the growing influence of prime ministers and their (unelected) office staff. They centralise and control more and more of what governments do because they are best able to make quick decisions that make democratic government appear decisive and effective. The intensifying focus of media on the ‘leader’ to the exclusion of others in government also contributes to this process.
The result is that leaders have far more latitude and authority to pursue arbitrary leadership. This in turn can more easily turn into despotic control. The list of leadership aberrations includes reduced consultation with colleagues or the public, more capricious, less informed decision-making (think ‘captain’s picks’), as well as a relentless desire to demand and receive complete allegiance, and the power ruthlessly to crush any form of perceived dissent.
Certainly all are standard traits of political leadership. But these traits, as we see below, are now exhibited so boldly, consistently and without constraint that it is fair to say we have entered a new world of alpha leadership, one that jars profoundly with the outside world that increasingly expects more not less debate, consultation and consensus.
Australian politics: A case study
The last decade or so in Australian politics is generally agreed (and bemoaned) to be a period of political turmoil and policy dysfunction. Leaders have been turned over at a rate unprecedented since the first decade of federation. Partisanship has intensified and big-policy vision has been largely jettisoned. Public trust in political leadership and Australian democracy has sharply deteriorated. As in other democratic systems struggling around the world, this period is explained conventionally as the result of the personal failings of our leaders. But through the prism of alpha politics, these failings assume a new and potentially more expansive pattern of dysfunction.
First there was alpha Rudd, whose beaming face masked a dysfunctional control-and-dominate approach to governing. Seeking to assert direct control over every lever of government, he lashed out wildly at any disloyalty or incompetence, real or imagined. His frustration stemmed from the centrifugal nature of modern-day government, which he saw as stymying his ambitious program of policy change.
In a bid to bring these forces under control, Rudd established a singularly intense hierarchy aimed at exerting the tightest grip on all decision-making within his tribe. Its epicentre was his private office, populated by an ‘in-group’ of young advisers from whom Rudd demanded complete loyalty (and often screamed at) and who in turn ruthlessly expunged dissent on his behalf. All this helped construct an intense ‘us’ against ‘them’ chalk circle into which Rudd and his in group increasingly retreated.
In time, Rudd came to see his own party as the enemy. In return, his tribe came to see him as despotic, dysfunctional and therefore a threat to their electoral security. Having turned ‘rogue’ and thus one of the ‘out-group’, his party saw little choice but to depose him. A key player in this move, indirectly at least, was his successor Julia Gillard, the first female prime minister of Australia. Her time as leader was marked by some of the most intensely disrespectful and immoderate personal commentary against an individual politician in modern Australian history.
Conventional wisdom blamed her poor political judgement and presentation skills for the vitriol levelled at her. But through the alpha lens, Gillard was the ultimate usurper, a female ruthlessly jettisoning the alpha male from his apex. She was also the ultimate outsider, even in her own party—a woman at the head of a political system hardwired to have an alpha male at its head. Her initial honeymoon aside, the Australian political system had no psychological context in which to place her leadership. Her tenure can be seen as a prolonged effort by the political class, both left and right, to expunge her through the violence of language.
Following a prolonged guerrilla war, Rudd unseated his usurper and resumed what he believed to be his rightful place. He claimed to have discarded his alpha habits and vowed to be a team player and share authority. The 2013 election campaign, however, saw him throw the alpha switch again—an exercise in the same arbitrary control that had characterised his first term as prime minister.
Ironically, the Australian public chose Tony Abbott to replace Rudd as the nation’s leader. Ironic because we should view Tony Abbott’s leadership as alpha ape redux. His list of alpha traits seems endless. Why else would he feel compelled to display repeated public exhibitions of physical strength (iron man competitions, fire-fighting, eating a raw onion and his threat to ‘shirtfront’ Russian leader Vladimir Putin, that other alpha ape redux) other than to demonstrate he was supremely capable of protecting the tribe?
Abbott sought to rule not through hope but almost exclusively through fear. He regaled the public with endless threats conveyed through simplistic slogans that reduced complex realities to a monochrome world of ‘asylum seekers are terrorists’, ‘taxes are bad’—including any designed to reduce carbon emissions. Tellingly, all women bar one were excluded from his Cabinet. His 2014 budget launched an unprecedented attack on social support for Australia’s underprivileged. A political disaster certainly. But through the alpha lens it was an attempt to withdraw sustenance from the weaker members of the tribe.
The oddest thing about Abbott was (and still is) his deep psychological attachment and deferral to a female to whom he delegated critical alpha ape tasks. Those who questioned his dominant position were not threatened or expunged by him, but rather by his chief of staff Peta Credlin. Despite the deep ambiguities of the relationship, the most coherent way to view Credlin is not as a diminution of Abbott’s alpha characteristics. Rather she was the ultimate alpha cheerleader, proving—with her Amazonian stature and undying loyalty to him—that he was the ape with ultimate prowess.
Yet Abbott proved too controlling even for his colleagues. As with Rudd, the leader was dispatched by his own tribe. Which brings us to Malcolm Turnbull. Central to Turnbull’s initial public appeal was his promise to tone down the animalism in Australian politics. Suave and urbane to the point of appearing to be metrosexual, Turnbull initially made good on his promise to erase the political negativity and machismo associated with his two male predecessors. But it is becoming apparent that even softer, gentler Turnbull cannot escape the alpha destiny that awaits all our political leaders.
Fumbling for a tax policy and abandoning his ‘politics of hope’ mantra, Turnbull pushed the button on the ultimate alpha fear and loathing campaign—the prospect of the tribe’s shelter being diminished (property prices being smashed by Labor’s proposed negative gearing changes).
Yes, Turnbull immediately installed five women in his first Cabinet. But take a closer look when he assumes his place at parliament’s dispatch box during question time. The background shot is invariably filled with three or four women. They seem to have no other function than to smile, laugh and nod incessantly at their leader’s comments. This is not a coincidence, given the relatively small proportion of Coalition female parliamentarians. They are carefully positioned cheerleaders. The government advisers who orchestrated this seating arrangement for the nightly news cameras want you as voters to think, here is a leader with alpha prowess. And Turnbull goes along with it.
Fixing primal democracy
Australia’s recent history of democratic dysfunction is a story of two clear trends. The first is that our political system has increasingly been organised along alpha lines, which in turn reflects serious mutations in the workings of our democratic system. The second is a growing public rejection of this trend. This is evidenced by the repudiation of Rudd’s and Abbott’s leadership styles. It is shown by multiple opinion polls showing the declining public trust and confidence in the way the political class are conducting themselves.
Australians are clearly tired of pathetic displays of animalism. They are tired of anachronistic tropes in which politicians try to divide the world into dualistic, conflict-driven tribes. We want practical solutions and agreement. But what we get is antics and diatribe.
I have sought in this essay to identify the source of contemporary democracy’s deep malaise. The framework is not intended to explain or account for every aspect of these failings (there are always exceptions to the alpha male rule, such as Hillary Clinton’s sustained ascension to the top of US politics). Rather it aims to provide deeper insights into democracy’s problems than simply blaming the isolated quirks of individual politicians.
Describing the underlying problems, however, is the easy part. The more difficult task is to propose realistic solutions. The practical obstacles to change, not least of which is changing the Australian constitution, are huge. But we can and should think about processes and structures that might be added to our liberal-democratic machinery to align its institutions with contemporary challenges and help them to function better.
Deliberative democracy is increasingly touted as a system of decision-making that can be joined with this machinery to create a more dynamic and responsive political system. Importantly, deliberative democracy provides new ways of ‘delivering’ democracy that do not rely on those institutions that are flagging most—parliaments, political parties and mass elections. Essentially, deliberative democracy involves taking the policymaking reins away from these institutions and handing them directly to the people. At the same time, it is not a free for all. Small but representative groups of citizens are carefully selected by ballot to ‘deliberate’ and advise on particular policy matters. Decisions around foreign policy or defence, for example, would remain with experts. But areas with a direct impact on citizens, such as the budget or tax changes, and that would clearly benefit from direct and informed citizen input would be subject to these processes.
The first main virtue of the deliberative process is that it injects a much richer source of knowledge and opinion into the policymaking process from ordinary people for whom the issue is not simply abstract or political, but close to their day-to-day lives. The result is invariably a better quality policy.
The second is that giving ordinary people the power directly to make decisions gives them ownership. Even if they do not agree with the outcome, they are much more likely to support it. The result is more consensus politics. Decisions made by deliberative panels would still be vetted by elected representatives in parliaments. This would retain an important check and balance while making sure parliamentarians are attuned to the public interest rather than simply to their own or their party’s.
In the same vein, we should consider reducing the role and influence of mainstream political parties in the policymaking process. So long as political parties monopolise parliament and align themselves with outdated, dualistic ideologies, partisan political and policy combat will worsen. French philosopher and activist Simone Weil summarised it best when she argued that political parties rarely represent the public interest. ‘The material growth of the party’, she wrote, ‘becomes the sole criterion by which to measure the good and bad of all things.’
One solution may be to limit the number seats that political parties can vie for. The balance would be contested by citizens who can demonstrate they have no party affiliation or background. (Given only a small and shrinking percentage of adult Australians have anything to do with political parties, this should open up a huge field of potential new candidates.) This quota system would provide for less partisan politics while ensuring parliamentary representation is tied far more directly to citizen rather than party priorities.
However we address democracy’s problems, we know the current situation cannot go on. Democracy in this and many other countries has crossed the line from a state of functional imperfection to a state of incoherence. Democracy was never meant to be an animal farm. It is meant to represent our better angels. Getting democracy to work moderately and effectively again is perhaps the biggest challenge of our age.
Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006.
Donatella della Porta, Can Democracy Be Saved?: Participation, Deliberation and Social Movements, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2013.
Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2015—Discarding Democracy: A Return to the Iron Fist, <https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2015#.VuExMscbolI>.
Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and The Last Man, Penguin, London, 1992.
Hector Garcia, Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression, Prometheus Books, New York, 2014.
Paul Kelly, Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of A Labor Generation, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2015.
Joshua Kurlanktzick, Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2013.
Adam Przeworksi, Democracy and the Limits of Self Government, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010.
Niki Savva, The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their own Government, Scribe, Melbourne, 2016.
William Schuermann, Liberal Democracy in an Age of Social Acceleration, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Md, 2004.
Simone Weil, On the Abolition of All Political Parties, New York Review of Books, New York, 2013 .