We live in an age of communicative abundance in which many product and process innovations - from satellite broadcasting to iPhones, electronic books, Freegate and cloud computing - have spawned great fascination mixed with excitement. In the field of politics, hopeful talk of digital democracy, web 2.0, cybercitizens and e-government has similarly flourished. Much less attention has been paid to the troubling counter-trends, the decadent media developments that encourage concentrations of unaccountable power, so weakening and potentially reversing the growth of ‘monitory democracy’. Aggressive government censorship - the Chinese and Iranian cases are the most sophisticated - and the use by governments and corporations of clever spin tactics and back-channel public relations are the most obvious examples. Berlusconi-style mass media populism, flat earth news, cyber-attacks, online gatekeeping, publicity bombs and organised media silence in the face of unaccountable power are just a few of the less well-recognised trends that bode ill for democracy. This lecture prompts key questions about these trends. Why do we have no comprehensive account of their origins and worrying power to induce rigor mortis in the democratic body politic? To what extent is the decadence exacerbated by the collapse of newspaper business models, and by the new phenomenon of red-blooded journalism, which often stands accused of such bad habits as hunting in packs, its eyes on bad news, egged on by newsroom rules that include titillation, sensationalism and the excessive concentration on personalities, rather than time-bound contexts? What (if anything) can be done about this media decadence? And some disturbing questions: does the age of communicative abundance on balance proffer more risk than promise? Are there developing parallels with the early twentieth-century, when print journalism and radio and film broadcasting hastened the widespread collapse of parliamentary democracy? Are the media failures of our age the harbingers of profoundly authoritarian trends that might ultimately result in the birth of ‘post-democracy’ - polities in which governments claim to represent majorities that are artefacts of media, money, organisation and force of arms?