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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Apr-18 > Enemies of “the people”

Enemies of “the people”

Liberals are set on a collision course with democracy, argues David Goodhart
The People vs Democracy: Why Our Freedom is in Danger and How to Save It by Yascha Mounk (Harvard, £21.95)
How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (Viking, £16.99)

Liberals in developed countries have been used to winning almost every argument for economic and cultural openness over the past 30 years. And they have not in the main been reacting calmly to the apparent end to this golden era.

Both these books, one focusing mainly on the United States, the other ranging more widely, capture the new paranoid spirit of a liberalism that had grown complacent and narrow and now seems unable to renew itself.

Yascha Mounk’s The People vs Democracy is the more ambitious in scope and range, and also the more frustrating of the two. This is partly because Mounk himself is often promoted as a big new thinker of the western centre-left, and is head of a unit at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (a fact he is oddly reticent about in the book blurb).

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect's April issue: Four writers explain how our relationship with death has changed in as technological and medical advances have been made in recent years. Joanna Bourke explores how modern life is now able to live on through social media sites, Cathy Rentzenbrink explains how (referring to the case of her own brother) a “twilight zone,” in which someone is neither alive nor dead, has been created through medical advances. Michael Marmot argues that we are experiencing a change in regards to our life expectancy—over the course of a series of decades we have seen life expectancy increase, but what do recent decreases actually mean. Meanwhile, Philip Ball writes about his participation in an experiment to create a second brain from his own flesh. Elsewhere in the issues: Jane Kinninmont questions whether the Saudi Crown Price, Mohammed bin Salman, really knows what he’s doing, Daniel Howden charts how European attitudes to migrants might be changing and Jay Elwes asks: Does a Cornish mine hold the answer to questions about the UK’s green future?