Monday, May 25, 2015

If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking...

Quote: I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
-Thomas Jefferson, 1816, quoted in Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment

 
Democracy Incorporated:
Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
 
Sheldon S. Wolin, 
With a new preface by the author.

Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost cliché. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In Democracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms "inverted totalitarianism"?

Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive--and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a "managed democracy" where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today's America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today's politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy's best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level.
Democracy Incorporated is one of the most worrying diagnoses of America's political ills to emerge in decades. It is sure to be a lightning rod for political debate for years to come.
In a new preface, Wolin describes how the Obama administration, despite promises of change, has left the underlying dynamics of managed democracy intact.                                                                   Princeton Press.

Review:
"[A] comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. . . . Democracy Incorporated is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States--including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors."--Chalmers Johnson, Truthdig

"[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct."--C. P. Waligorski, Choice

"Sheldon Wolin has produced an ambitious and broad-ranging book that examines the current state of democracy in America. . . . Wolin argues that the unquestioned faith in the virtues of free market capitalism has dramatically narrowed the range of policy options that are on the table when debate turns to resolving the US's ills. . . .[T]his is a trenchant and powerful volume."--Alex Waddan, International Affairs
"Of the many books I've read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process."--Jonathan Crary, Artforum

"[W]e need to understand the deep roots of our present troubles ourselves and Wolin's book is an excellent beginning."--Toby Grace, Out in Jersey







End Post

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A bankruptcy attorney's open letter to Grandville auto shop after anti-gay Facebook post

Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. Mahatma Gandhi

Intolerance is a form of violence against others.  It is vicious and dangerous, born of hate, ignorance, racism and prejudice.  It is the product of fear and a lack of compassion for our fellow man.  It is not a Christian ethic nor is it an American ideal.  It is anathema to what America is about, and those who engage in it, regardless of how they cloak it, are unchristian and un-American. They are deserving of our scorn.  Unfortunately this is what the GOP has given birth to and encourages.  


From Mlive.com; The following is an open letter by Grand Rapids attorney Jeffrey Mapes. Mapes posted the letter on his practice's website after news reports that a Grandville auto shop's owner wrote on the business's Facebook page that he would refuse service to openly gay customers.
Dear Dieseltec:
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jeffrey Mapes, and I specialize in bankruptcy law -- helping individuals and corporations when things go wrong. I noticed your post on Facebook where you decided to alienate most of the general public by stating that you will refuse service to openly homosexual people. This is certainly an unorthodox business strategy, and perhaps it will work for you, but I get the feeling you will need a bankruptcy attorney pretty soon and I wanted to offer my services. Like you, I am white, male, Christian, a business owner, and a gun owner. Unlike you, I provide services to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation because it doesn't matter to me -- I hope this won't be a deal breaker for you.
If that upsets you, let me tell you a little bit more about our office to try and persuade you. The first thing you will notice is how friendly and compassionate the office staff is. Despite your inane, incoherent and just plain dumb comments, we know that everyone makes mistakes and we want to help you overcome them. They will also be more than willing to help you with some basic grammar that you seem to struggle with.
jeffrey-mapes-334x400.jpgJeffrey Mapes 
If you still need more convincing, let me assure you that we will make certain that your bankruptcy petition is filed correctly and there are no errors. You stated in your post that you would incorrectly assemble a vehicle in order to prove a point. I want to let you know that despite the fact that I would love to prove a point to you about tolerance, I won't compromise my standards of quality to do so. After all, I have to look in the mirror at the end of the day and if I didn't do my best for everyone, I would have trouble sleeping. Perhaps you could give me pointers on how you sleep at night?
Just a few other housekeeping items. While I certainly don't encourage people to bring guns into my office, so long as you have the proper permit and handle it responsibly, you can bring your gun along. I would only ask that you refrain from menacingly stroking your weapon while you quietly sing David Allen Coe songs to yourself. I also think you have a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment and how it works, but that is a long discussion and we should save that for when we meet in person.
Well Dieseltec, I hope I've convinced you that Mapes Law Offices is the right place for you to file your bankruptcy. I would like to leave you with some words of inspiration from the dramatic film Billy Madison and I hope that you will take them to heart:
"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
Sincerely,
Jeffrey D. Mapes
mlive.com



End Post