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The New Global Disorder and the Rise of Despotism

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The Peter Doherty Institute Auditorium

792 Elizabeth Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

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There's a widespread feeling that we're living in times of a new global disorder that works in favour of the wealthy, media manipulators, populists, strategists of war and other anti-democratic forces. Prof John Keane analyses one of the most salient of these global trends: the birth of political regimes that are a serious alternative to the ideals and practices of power-sharing monitory democracy as we have known it during the past generation.

Drawing on evidence and field work from China, Hungary, the UAE, Poland, Iran, Russia and the Central Asian republics, he shows how these regimes mobilise democratic rhetoric and make use of election victories. They forge public support and workable forms of government by means of patron-client relations, economic growth, sophisticated media controls, strangled judiciaries, dragnet surveillance and selective armed crackdowns on their opponents.

The Public Lecture pays special attention to the inadequacy of such descriptive terms as dictatorship, autocracy and authoritarianism. It makes a case for retrieving and refurbishing the old concept of despotism, to make better sense of why these 21st-century regimes seem both crisis-ridden yet remarkably resilient, why they tend to cooperate both regionally and globally, feeding upon each other's resources, and why they breed global insecurities and threaten the norms and institutions of power-sharing democracy.

This Public Lecture will be chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Prof Glyn Davis AC.

About the Speaker:

Renowned globally for his creative thinking about democracy, John Keane is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. His 'Democracy Field Notes' column appears on The Conversation (Melbourne).

Described by the ABC as one of Australia's 'great intellectual exports', his most recent books include A Short History of the Future of Democracy (2016), Democracy and Media Decadence (2013) and The Life and Death of Democracy (2009), the first full-scale history of democracy for over a century. It was short-listed for the 2010 Non-Fiction Prime Minister's Literary Award. His new account of the rise of China, When Trees Fall, Monkeys Scatter, will be published later this year.

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The Peter Doherty Institute Auditorium

792 Elizabeth Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000

Australia

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