What is the greatest single failing of western political thought in the 21st century?
A belief that government has no power / authority.
Western politicians are now convinced that
- a) they can't "lead", but must merely follow the whims of the electorate
- b) they are incompetent to make strategic decisions. Only the market (and its representatives from private corporations) has wisdom about what is good for people.
The result is politicians that do nothing but REACT to an agenda set by the media and by corporate lobbyists. They've already ruled out the idea that their term in office might actually "add value" to the country they are nominally in charge of, and so fully live down to their own abysmal expectations of themselves.
Update : This answer was written in 2014, and was, I believe, a good analysis of the state of affairs at the time. Obviously in 2018, with the rise of what Mark Blythe calls Global Trumpism, there has been a populist backlash against this sense of government as powerless and unable to set an agenda. The “populist” politicians we’re seeing rise to power now, are claiming that they have the power to make things better. It seems pretty obvious to me that their popularity is exactly due to this claim, and that people had got fed up with governments that seemed to have abdicated responsibility for solving their problems. That doesn’t mean that these new populists are right that they have that capacity or that what they want to do is good, but they are a correction to this previous problem.
See also :