Phantom democracies

Political thinker John Keane on the New Global Despotism

Peter Mares

Published 11 August 2017

Episode 400

Political scientist and author Professor John Keane on the recent proliferation of corrupt political regimes that employ democratic rhetoric, staged elections, social media and economic growth to cultivate public loyalty and give the appearance of legitimacy.

According to John Keane, “the new despotisms of the 21st century - they include Russia, China, some of the Central Asian republics, the Gulf States, Vietnam, Cambodia, Belarus, Hungary, potentially Poland, the numbers grow - are regimes where those who govern understand that support for institutions is only durable if people are loyal to those institutions, and so they invent mechanisms for cultivating this loyalty.

“These rulers understand that violence is a limited tool for ensuring loyalty. That much more effective, much more durable, is the experiment with institutional forms, new mechanisms and tools for actually encouraging voluntary servitude.”

Presented by Peter Mares.

Episode recorded 28 June 2017 Up Close producer: Eric van Bemmel Audio engineer: Gavin Nebauer Banner image: Getty Images

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