Restoring Democracy in an Age of Populists and Pestilence

  • Pages:320
  • Publisher:Cormorant Books
  • Themes:democracy, politics, COVID-19, populism, civics
  • Available:04/27/2021
  • Age Groups:Adult Nonfiction

“This global affairs veteran has carved out a solid, mature path, including for ‘flawed democracies’ like the U.S. We’d all be wise to follow.” — Vancouver Sun

From the author of the Claws of the Panda, a Globe and Mail bestseller, Restoring Democracy is quite literally a book for our times.

Jonathan Manthorpe argues that democracy is more resilient than it appears, and is capable of overcoming the attacks from within and without that have sapped its vigour since the end of the Cold War. He begins with a description of the events of 1989, one of the seminal years in modern history. This saw the end of the Cold War, and the apparent conclusive victory of democracy and its civic values.

But the view of these changes as a triumph of democracy — as summed up in Francis Fukuyama’s essay "The End of History" — was short-lived. Russia, shorn of its Soviet empire, and the Chinese Communist Party, re-examining its survival after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, began devising ways to counter-attack the West’s triumphalism and these met with considerable success.

Internal pressures and contradictions — wealth disparity being chief among them — threaten the survival of many democratic systems. Abandoned industrial workers turn to the repeated platitudes designed to appeal to those left behind without actually offering them the ways and means to catch up. Immigrants, refugees, and the reformist fixations of isolated liberal elites have provided ammunition for would-be despots.

Adding to the pressures building on the political norms of our democracies, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic and social stand-still for which no country is prepared.

“The giants of post-war Western foreign correspondents — and Jonathan Manthorpe is one of our giants — were the first of their profession for whom the entire world was their beat. … His newest book, Restoring Democracy in An Age of Populists and Pestilence is a sharp-edged critique of the slide of the Western democracies based on that life of observation.”
– Policy Magazine
“Western democracy lives and dies by the integrity of its institutions and of those elected to serve them.”
– Literary Review of Canada
“Manthorpe’s experience as a journalist serves him well: he knows how to write for all readers, how to tell a story, and how to get to the heart of the matter. In thirteen chapters, focusing on political systems in Europe and North America, he weaves many threads into a large and coherent tapestry. … you will surely agree that Manthorpe’s excellent book inspires us to think hard about the tough questions.”
– The Ormsby Review