Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

The road to a liberal democracy – Brian Cameron

A few thoughts on aspects I’d be considering if I were designing a game on this topic.

I’m wondering whether this needs to be a ‘gamey’ approach, not ‘real life’ – we could argue forever about the current state of play and how and why we got here and whether it’s good or bad.  When I first started Barricades & Borders (my game about the impact of change in the 19th century including social and governmental) the session got bogged down in arguments about whether this or that could happen in Prussia or wherever.  That’s why I went over to fictional countries in which players had greater freedom to try differing approaches.

A summary of the current state of the country as factors in the game

  • Poverty is increasing (costs going up, wages going down)
  • Health getting worse (poverty, under-funded NHS, poor nutrition, poor air quality)
  • Employment going down due to impact of AI
  • Employment conditions are worsening (gig economy, etc)

Social concerns

  • Immigration often viewed as a negative
  • Racism
  • Equality for disabled, LGBT, etc

A summary of the barriers to change

  • Media support for the government as its owned by those who benefit from inequality
  • Opposition from wealthy and well-off who see themselves as losing out if the inequality decreases (ie they view it as a zero sum game)
  • Current electoral system
  • Protest on a large scale is rare in England & Wales

Factors to paving the road to equality

  • Making the case for equality and against inequality – it is not zero sum, not a threat
  • Getting messages across via social media etc
  • Raising funds at the individual level to avoid the problems caused by a small number of wealthy backers
  • Organising protest at a local level which can be co-ordinated to work at a national level
  • Transparent, accountable and effective local government
  • Coming up with real answers to tackling the issues that really matter to people: jobs, homes, health, education
  • A transparent package of reforms developed with experts and institutions on issues such as making education relevant, benefit reform, local government, transport
  1. Spike Robin


    Is this about the historic process of becoming a liberal democracy? In which case I would expect you would need game turns measured in no less than a quarter century or so, as the precursor conditions – economic, political, cultural, institutional, constitutional – develop slowly.

    Or is this a more contemporary concept about a hypothetical island nation trying to find its way back to being a liberal democracy, after some unexpected detours? 😉

    – Spike

    • Spike Robinson

      Oh I seem to have misnamed myself as a bird in that previous comment.

    • Brian Cameron

      It’s more the latter. Any similarity to any real ‘nation’ making a transition to 3rd rate world status and moving in the direction of a right wing dictatorship driven by ideology is completely accidental :-). Just like my thoughts of a game set in a mega-state similarly at threat of dictatorship by an extreme political faction which looks at how a second civil war would be fought.

      My Barricades & Borders game set in the 19th century loked at the long term transition to democracy. Could be worth my running the club version again though I’ve no idea where the various game materials are.


  2. Brian Cameron

    I think I covered some of the historical ground in my Barricades & Borders club games (and megagame).

    This is a nonsense about about a small island nation which generally seems happy to become a one party state and has virtually no chance of ever becoming a liberal democracy again (if it ever was one).


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