I had heard some good things about Furedi, and there are some excellent parts of this book — ‘Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right’ — but unfortunately there is a major confusion at the core of the book which is hard to forgive.
Furedi has noticed that people are disengaging from politics. And he doesn’t like it. From p29:
“In fact, the affirmation of anti-politics expresses a profoundly pessimistic outlook towards the future. It represents a new form of deference. Whereas in the past people deferred to hierarchical authority, today they are encouraged to defer to Fate. Disengagement allows other to determine your fate. Anti-politics is not, as it sometimes appears, a rejection of particular parties and politicians, but an expression of a deeper conviction that politics as such is futile. The very idea that anybody could achieve any positive results through political action is often dismissed as naïve or arrogant. But those who perceive some sort of radical imperative behind the rejection of politics ignore the fact that the flip-side of anti-politics is the acceptance of the world as it is. ‘Politics is the denial of fate,’ argues the Austrian political scientist Andreas Schedler. Or to put it the other way around, anti-politics represents acquiescence to Fate.”
Similar ideas are expressed elsewhere. With all due respect to Furedi, that is utter bullshit.