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On the Deep Unsustainability of Actually Existing Liberal Democracy


Gale, F, On the Deep Unsustainability of Actually Existing Liberal Democracy, Proceedings of the 2014 Australian Political Studies Association Annual Conference, 28 September-1 October, Sydney, pp. 1-19. (2014) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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DOI: doi:10.2139/ssrn.2440366


A number of worrying recent reports indicate that the Earth is undergoing interlinked social, economic and ecological crises linked to intra- and inter-state inequality, financial instability and climate change. Past ‘solutions’ based on eco-development and sustainable development are being superseded by a focus on ‘sustainability’, a term that does not presume ‘development’ or ‘growth’ and appears to require deep integration across space, time, disciplines and interests. The emergence of sustainability poses tough questions for the theory and practice of liberal democracy, based as the latter on the principle of fragmentation including individualism, territorialism, nationalism and partisanship. This paper critically evaluates the adequacy of ‘actual existing liberal democracy’ from a sustainability perspective. Based on the case of Australia, it highlights the deep unsustainability of the country’s constitutional founding and political economy and how such unsustainability is periodically renewed via the structure and operation of parliamentary and executive government.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Australian government and politics
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Coastal and estuarine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Gale, F (Professor Fred Gale)
ID Code:96693
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2014-11-17
Last Modified:2018-03-13

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