The Problem of Democracy

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The Problem of Democracy
cover
The Problem of Democracy
Author(s) Alain de Benoist
Cover artist Andreas Nilsson
Country London
Language English
Genre(s) Politics
Publisher Arktos
Publication date 2011
Pages 104
ISBN 978-1-907166-17-4

The Problem of Democracy is a book published in 2011, by Alain de Benoist, that argues that the concept of democracy has been misconstrued in the modern West. Systematically defending the concept of popular rule against anti-democratic criticism, de Benoist maintains that the representative system is in fact a counterfeit of the actual democratic tradition.

After a cursory overview of the development of the concept of democracy throughout history, de Benoist goes on to discuss the most common criticisms levyed against it. He then posits that true democracy, as it evolved in Classical Greece, must be based on citizenship and shared ethnos, and that the representative system does not in fact represent the will of the actual people.

At the end of the book de Benoist presents his '10 Theses on Democracy,' that sum up the argument of the book into a sort of brief manifesto.[1]

Contents

Cover text

"The Problem of Democracy is the first of Alain de Benoist's book-length political works to appear in English. It presents the complexity and depth which underlies all of de Benoist’s work and which is often neglected by those who seek to dismiss him by oversimplifying or distorting his arguments.

De Benoist shows how democracy is, contrary to what some critics have claimed, something which has been a part of our civilisation from the beginning. The problem, he says, is not the notion of democracy in itself, but rather the current understanding of the term which, rather than empowering the individual, reduces him to little more than a cog in a machine over which he has no control, and in which the direction is set by politicians with little genuine accountability.

As an alternative, de Benoist proposes that effective democracy would mean a return to an understanding of citizenship as being tied to one’s belonging to a specific political community based on shared values and common historical ties, while doing away with the liberal notion of the delegation of sovereignty to elected representatives. The type of government which is called for is thus a return to the form of government widely understood in Antiquity, but which now seems to us to be a revolutionary notion.

This is the first in a series of volumes by Alain de Benoist which will be translated and published by Arktos Media."[2]

Opinions on the book

"The Problem of Democracy is a small book. However, the problems it describes are many, and the possible solutions along with its analysis have required innumerable volumes. With this in mind, where does the book fit within the scheme of political science literature? The book is quite suitable for either an advanced high-school civics class, or an introductory political science course at the university level, especially if assigned with ancillary material showing ways that could provide solutions to perennial problems Alain de Benoist enumerates. In trying to fit this small book into the tradition of all that has gone before we are reminded of Dr. Johnson's dog: when someone attempts to condense the problems of democracy into such a small package one may not be surprised to find that it has not been done well, but only that it has been done at all. Alain de Benoist has, however, done it very well. Very well, indeed."[3]
- Michael Presley, for the Brussels Journal

"[The] thesis is bold and intriguing because it goes where few dare go, which is to apply critical thinking to deconstruct our notion of democracy itself. Too often, like other modern terms such as freedom, diversity and justice, the term “democracy” is bandied about like a brand name, without ever being defined or questions. de Benoist very sensibly does not question it, but demands it be clarified, and in doing so shows how classical democracy and modern liberal democracy are going in separate directions.

Writing in clear and simple language in an extraordinarily fluid translations, he extensively cites other sources and thinkers, pulling from each a few sentences distilling their thought on the topic, thus giving us a broad view of historical thought on the matter in a similar method to the one used by Aldous Huxley in his philosophical writings."[4]
- Brett Stevens on Amerika.org

References

  1. Alain de Benoist, The Problem of Democracy (London: Arktos, 2011)
  2. Alain de Benoist, The Problem of Democracy (London: Arktos, 2011)
  3. 'Alain de Benoist and the Democratic Problem,' review by Michael Preston in The Brussels Journal
  4. 'Alain de Benoist - The Problem of Democracy,' by Brett Stevens

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