Democracy in Decline
Steps in the Wrong Direction
Paperback, 198 pages
Something very odd is going on. The core anglophone democracies - among the oldest, most stable, constitutionally-evolved societies on earth, and the indispensable members of that small group of western nations which resisted the totalitarian temptations of the 20th century - have been spending the first years of this new millennium in a remorseless retreat from liberty. In a commanding and trenchant analysis, James Allan examines this disturbing phenomenon, and the supple, slippery threats to real freedom and representative government from ersatz “human rights” and transnationalism. This is an important book that charts free nations’ beguiling seduction into soft tyranny. If we are to reverse it, we will need more voices like Professor Allan’s.
-- Mark Steyn, Canadian-born writer and political commentator.
Democracy in Decline charts how democracy is being diluted and restricted in five of the world's oldest democracies – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. James Allan targets four main, interconnected causes of decline – judicial activism, the transformation and growth of international law, the development of supranational organisations, and the presence of undemocratic elites. He presents a convincing argument that the same trends are occurring whether the country has a constitutional bill of rights (United States and Canada), a statutory bill of rights (the United Kingdom and New Zealand), or no bill of rights at all (Australia).
Identifying tactics used by lawyers, judges, and international bureaucrats to deny that any decline has occurred, Allan looks ahead to further deterioration caused by attacks on free speech, intolerant worldviews, internationalisation through treaties and conventions, and illegal immigration. Social and political decisions, Allan argues, must be based on counting every adult in a nation state as equal.
James Allan is the Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland. He is a native born Canadian who practised law at a large firm in Toronto and then at the Bar in London before moving to teach law in Hong Kong, New Zealand and then Australia. Allan has published widely in the areas of constitutional law, legal philosophy and bill of rights scepticism. He also writes regularly for weeklies and monthlies including being a regular contributor to The Australian, The Spectator Australia, and Quadrant.