This is a book about the answers that historians, philosophers, theologians, practising politicians and would-be revolutionaries have given to one question: how should human beings best govern themselves?
Almost every modern government claims to be democratic; but is democracy really the best way of organising our political life? Can we manage our own affairs at all? Should we even try? In the west, do we actually live in democracies? In this extraordinary book Alan Ryan engages with the great thinkers of the past to show us how vividly their ideas speak to us in today's uncertain world.
ALAN RYAN was born in London in 1940 and taught for many years at Oxford, where he was a Fellow of New College and Reader in Politics. He was Professor of Politics at Princeton from 1988 to 1996, when he returned to Oxford to become Warden of New College and Professor of Political Theory until his retirement in 2009. His previous books include The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell: A Political Life and John Dewey and the High Tide of American Liberalism. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.