Politics has never been more unpredictable. Radical populists and insurgents have turned politics-as-usual on its head. Rebel explores how we got here, where we are heading and what we can do about it.
Douglas Carswell argues that these insurgencies are a reaction against the emergence of a political and economic oligarchy that has subverted our democracy and stifled our market system. 'Politics,' he writes, 'is a cartel. Like the economy, it is rigged in the interests of a few.' This leaves our liberal, democratic order – the mechanism that has allowed a historically unprecedented proportion of humanity to flourish – facing a twin assault: oligarchs on the one hand, radical populists on the other.
Reassessing history and politics, Rebel puts forward a bold new thesis: we are not the first to face such a threat. Oligarchic cartels have clogged the arteries of nations and economies throughout history, triggering radical insurgencies in protest. But all too often the radicals have strengthened the hand of the oligarchs: the Roman, Venetian and Dutch republics all succumbed to cartels. 'Anti-oligarch radicals,' the author notes, 'have often made the oligarchs seem the more attractive option.' So, too, today, he suggests.
In the face of these twin threats, Carswell mounts a robust defence of the liberal, democratic order. Drawing on his first-hand experience in taking on – and beating – the established political parties, he proposes a profound reform of politics and capitalism to free us from the cartels, listing the practical steps needed to make this revolutionary change happen.