In the midst of a New England winter long ago, young people of Boston filed into a drafty meeting hall up the road from the harbor. They had assembled on that January morning in 1839 for the seventh annual meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society.
Political sociologist Claus Offe has diagnosed the participatory deficit in North Atlantic democracies as the product of an imbalance in state–market relations. When the market is supreme, public policy can do little to constrain the market’s ever-expanding realms.
By now, we know the pattern: A constitutional democracy, flawed but in reasonably good standing, is hit by a transformative election.