In two of the main centres of democracy, America and Europe, democracy is rapidly failing. They are not setting good examples. Off-shoot democracies are following suit. We may be entering an era when democracy is thought incapable of running successful countries.

In America and Europe, democracies came to be based on a balanced view of human nature: people are by nature selfish but self-government is possible because we are wise enough to restrain and control that selfishness.

James Madison, one of the founding fathers of American democracy, saw the frailty which threatened but also the countervailing qualities which could prevent disaster: “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind, which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.” The pioneers of democracy knew that if people get the chance they will try to get something for nothing and favour short-term favours over long-term prosperity. So they crafted checks and balances to ensure their nations would not be ruined by their people’s frailty…..

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