31 March 2023

The CapX Podcast: Ben Ansell on Why Politics Fails


Would we all be better off if only we had better politicians?
It’s a comforting illusion, but really the problem isn’t those who sweep in and out of power, but you and me, the public – that’s the basic argument put forward by political scientist Ben Ansell in his new book Why Politics Fails.
Drawing on examples from Ancient Greece to Brexit and Covid lockdowns, Ben argues compellingly that the problem with politics is that self interest and collective goals rub up against each other to create five inescapable ‘traps’. The ‘democracy trap’ for instance, is that we want a say in how we’re governed, but all have rather different ideas of what that entails – the idea of a ‘will of the people’ is the stuff of utopian fantasy, not political reality.
So how do we resolve those tensions and paradoxes while keeping in place the democratic processes we all take for granted? Our editor John Ashmore sat down with Ben to find out…

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John Ashmore is Editor of CapX.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.