The One Big Lesson Western Democracies Must Learn from James Madison
A C Grayling argues that a failure to heed the advice of one of the Founding Fathers of the American Constitution is what has left our democracies in such peril
Arguably the most important document ever written in the dawn of modern democracy was James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 10, published in 1787. It is the failure to heed its advice which has led to the vulnerability of contemporary ‘Western liberal democracies’ to being overthrown.
In the EU elections forthcoming this year there is a risk of a right-wing populist majority in Brussels, with Italy and Hungary setting the precedent, along with the rise of right-wing parties in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. The prospect of a Trump second term in the US is even worse, not just for the US itself but for the world: think of what a Trump presidency would mean for China, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East.
In India, Turkey and elsewhere, the politics of the Right already hold sway. All the current portents are bad, except in the UK where a populace sickened by the venality and corruption of a UKIP-hijacked Conservative party seems to be finally turning the tide.
Here are Madison’s words: