Skip to main content

Is Liberal Democracy Sliding into 'Democratic Despotism'?

Pabst, Adrian (2016) Is Liberal Democracy Sliding into 'Democratic Despotism'? The Political Quarterly, 87 (1). pp. 91-95. ISSN 1467-923X. (doi:10.1111/1467-923X.12209) (KAR id:51548)

PDF Publisher pdf
Language: English
Download (120kB) Preview
Official URL


Post-democracy and cognate concepts suggest that the postwar period of democratisation has given way to a concentration of power in the hands of small groups that are unrepresentative and unaccountable, as exemplified by the rise of multinational corporations and their influence on democratic politics. This article goes further to argue that this does not fully capture the triple threat facing liberal democracy: first, the rise of a new oligarchy that strengthens executive power at the expense of parliament and people; second, the resurgence of populism and demagogy linked to a backlash against technocratic rule and procedural politics; third, the emergence of anarchy associated with the atomisation of society and a weakening of social ties and civic bonds. In consequence, liberal democracy risks sliding into a form of ‘democratic despotism’ that maintains the illusion of free choice while instilling a sense of ‘voluntary servitude’ as conceptualised by Tocqueville.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/1467-923X.12209
Uncontrolled keywords: liberal democracy, oligarchy, demagogy, anarchy, ‘mixed government’
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2015 20:27 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Pabst, Adrian:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year