Democracy Books This Week
Free speech is the link between liberalism and democracy. It is impossible to have a liberal society without free speech. It is inconceivable to have a democratic society without free speech. But for anyone living in a democracy it is also a part of the political culture and embedded into our values and beliefs. So, it’s only fitting for a history on free speech to headline this week’s new books on democracy. Other titles touch on varied aspects of democracy from finance to democratic practice. Like always there is always plenty of new scholarship to explore for those interested in democracy, liberalism, and freedom.
Hopefully, you’ve already listened to the latest Democracy Paradox podcast. It features Lisa Disch in a fascinating conversation about the ways representation contributes to democracy. It’s an unorthodox approach in an age when so many opinions look for new ways to redesign democracy entirely. You can find the podcast on most apps or listen here and read along with the transcript.
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A few weeks ago I taught my children about Socrates. My oldest son is ten years old and has begun talking to friends and adults about politics. He reads a lot, so he knows quite a bit for a ten year old. But he still has a long way to go. So, I taught him about Socrates and the importance of tough questions. Jacon Mchangama ‘s new book is about more than Socrates, but I find myself endeared to any book that begins its history with Socrates. Anyway, free speech is a vital and necessary component of democracy. Expect to find this book on the shelf of the leading intellectuals concerned with democracy and liberalism today. It’s a book for scholars, activists, and anyone who believes in a diversity of ideas.
Jacob Mchangama, Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media
Law and the Economy in a Young Democracy
This book is less about democracy than the intersection of the law and economics in India. Yet it’s difficult to discuss Indian politics without considering how democracy shapes it. Tirthankar Roy and Anand Swamy provide an account of India that focuses on the larger forces that shaped its policies. India is among the most important countries in the world. It’s among the oldest democracies even though it’s still a developing country. So, it offers lessons for nascent democracies challenged to establish both the rule of law and build a modern economy.
Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy, Law and the Economy in a Young Democracy: India 1947 and Beyond
The Class Matrix
Class is an important lens to dissect democracy. Classic political science thought of class as an important cleavage that divides political debates and political parties. However, political thought has shifted away from class to focus more on culture. Vivek Chubber wants to revisit the subject of class. At the same time, he does not ignore what he describes as “the cultural turn.” Chibber looks to provide an interesting analysis of political conflict that is relevant to political science or philosophy.
Vivek Chibber, The Class Matrix: Social Theory After the Cultural Turn
Design as Democratic Inquiry
The divide between activism and theory is largely blurred these days. Theorists often seek to reimagine democratic governance through novel innovations. However, the introduction of these ideas often imposes democratic experiments onto communities. Carl DiSalvo brings communities into the creation of experimental design so they become engaged in the democratic process from the outset. It’s an interesting approach to democratic experimentation and inquiry.
Carl DiSalvo, Design as Democratic Inquiry: Putting Experimental Civics into Practice
Democratization takes many forms. I had heard others talk about the democratization of finance before, but it is remains a nebulous concept. Does the democratization of finance open capital markets to the many or does it merely leave everyone indebted? Fred Block and Robert Hockett have an optimistic vision to share wealth and transform society. This is an edited volume where a number of scholars contributed to the volume. Anyone interested in the study of economic democracy or economic inequality should take a look to consider what it might mean to democratize finance.
Fred Block and Robert Hockett (eds.), Democratizing Finance: Restructuring Credit to Transform Society