Totalitarianism and how we can resist it
For democracy to function, it needs an informed electorate.
But as the gulf between the electorate and the academic world of political theory has widened in recent years, threats to our civil liberties have become increasingly ominous. At the same time, the growing complexity of our tax, welfare, financial, legal and insurance systems has left us trapped in a Kafkaesque web of rules and laws. The high school nightmare of information you don’t understand – and which you can find no one to explain – extends throughout our adult lives.
This ignorance is one of the greatest threats to our modern political, social and economic landscape.
Highlighting the fragility of the democratic way of life in the context of rising populism, mass surveillance, the widespread phenomenon of groupthink, and dangers to liberty from both the left and the right, O’Brien sets out some basic ideas of key thinkers – past and present – in the area of political philosophy. He walks us through the essential theoretical approaches of Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben, Karl Popper, Shoshana Zuboff, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno and more. We can only counter the threat of totalitarianism to our hard-won freedoms if the electorate has a clear understanding of the political issues that affect us all.
Accessible and engaging, this book provides the concerned citizen with a guide to complex political concepts and lays the groundwork for a reassertion of the fundamental value of liberty.
Dr Paul O’Brien is an Associate Fellow of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, where he taught in the Faculties of Fine Art and Visual Culture. He has published in areas including aesthetics, film theory, philosophy, post-colonialism, new media art, culture and ecology, as well as alternative economic theory. He is a former spokesperson and policy convener for the Irish Green Party.