The life & death of democracy

The Evatt Foundation is delighted to present a Sunset Seminar on:

The Life & Death of Democracy


John Keane

The third age of democracy is plagued by growing social inequality and troubled by the visible decline of political party membership and, especially among young people and the poor, fluctuating turnout at elections and growing disrespect for 'politicians' and official 'politics'. Whether and how democracies can adjust to the new world of campaign mega-advertising, political 'spin' and corporate global media is proving equally challenging. Then there are the deep-seated trends for which there is no historical precedent, and no easy solutions, like the rise of the United States as the world's first democratic empire; the spread of uncivil wars; rising fears about the biosphere; and the proliferation of new forms of violence and new weapons systems with killing power many times greater than that of all democracies combined. In Australia, we have the Howard government's assault on industrial democracy. Has democracy a future?

"There are the deep-seated trends for which there is no historical precedent, and no easy solutions."

About the Speaker

Born in Australia and educated at the Universities of Adelaide, Toronto and Cambridge, John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Westminster and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB). In 1989 he founded the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD). Among his many books are The Media and Democracy (1991), which has been translated into more than twenty-five languages; Democracy and Civil Society (1988; 1998); Reflections on Violence (1996); Civil Society: Old Images, New Visions (1998); the prize-winning biography Tom Paine: A Political Life (1995); and a study of power, Václav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts (1999). Among his most recent works are Violence and Democracy (2004), and Global Civil Society? (2003).

In recent years, he has held the prestigious Karl Deutsch Professorship in Berlin and served as a Fellow of the influential London-based think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). The Times of London has ranked him as one of Britain's leading political thinkers and writers whose work has "a world-wide importance". The Australian Broadcasting Commission recently described him as 'one of the great intellectual exports from Australia'.

His current research interests include the future of global governance; fear, violence and democracy; citizenship and civil society in Europe; the history of secularism; public life and freedom of communication; eighteenth-century republicanism; the post-communist regimes of central and eastern Europe; and the philosophy and politics of Islam. A member of the American-based Institutions of Democracy Commission, he is currently writing a full-scale history of democracy - the first for over a century. This is a seminar not to be missed by anyone interested in the future of democracy.

Visit John Keane's website.

Read John Keane's short history of democracy on the Evatt site.

Date: 12 July 2006

Location: Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney.

Time: 5.30 pm for 6.00 pm, Wednesday 12 July

Cost: $10