These are the best and worst of times for practical egalitarian democrats. 2 Glo- bally, the number of peoples selecting their governments through free elections has rarely been higher, popular contempt for tyranny more evident, technical conditions for application of human knowledge to a host of pressing social prob- lems more favourable, or local democratic innovation in that application more abundant. But also never, or at least in a very long while – especially in affluent capitalist democracies with rich social democratic traditions – has the corporate perversion and hollowing out of national democratic institutions, the weakness of worker and other popular organization in influencing public policy, the lack of citizen confidence in and engagement with governing institutions, or the amount of unnecessary harm elected leaders are prepared to inflict on their own citizens been greater. Over the past three years, the generally pre-1930s collect- ive response of the world’s major capitalist democracies to the global financial crisis and ensuing contraction (itself triggered by collapse of a seventeenth century-worthy debt-financed asset price bubble, studiously neglected by gov- ernments in hock to casino finance and intent on its deregulation) has offered a kaleidoscope of such democratic failure. That at the time of writing (September 2011) the main perpetrators of the calamity have emerged unscathed, or in some cases even better off, and the Right has gained more politically than the Left, suggests just how severely competent and egalitarian democratic politics has been diminished.