Democracy Books this Week
Few books will receive as much anticipation as Moisés Naím’s The Revenge of Power. It’s a book I’ve had my eye on for months. Naím, of course, is among the most influential voices on the subject of democracy and authoritarianism. So, his book will draw wide interest from many readers from a variety of backgrounds. The other books touch on subjects including argument, protest, the environment, and political theory. It’s a diverse range of books with options for people focused on almost any aspect of democracy or politics.
This week’s episode of the Democracy Paradox podcast discusses the inclusion of Muslims into Western societies. Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and Paul Sniderman share their innovative research that has real world applications and insights. You can find the podcast on most apps or listen here and read along with the transcript.
The Revenge of Power
Almost ten years ago, Moisés Naím published The End of Power. It became a must read for intellectuals around the world. At the time, the Arab Spring had demonstrated the power of social media to facilitate protests and even revolutions. Since then autocratic leaders have turned social media against civil society. Even more disturbing the democratic recession has accelerated as democracies have regressed into competitive authoritarianism and authoritarians have become more autocratic. So, Naím’s new book revisits the new landscape of political power. He breaks down the tools of autocrats into populism, polarization, and post-truth. I’m sure some readers will dismiss Naím’s latest book as a reversal of his previous one. However, it’s a sophisticated diagnosis that offers a possible roadmap to challenge the new autocrats. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the challenges for democracy in the years ahead.
Moisés Naím, The Revenge of Power: How Autocrats Are Reinventing Politics for the 21st Century
Why Argument Matters
Democracy is a regime dependent upon ideas. But it’s not dependent so much on specific ideas or even a coherent ideology. Rather it depends on a process to work through ideas among its citizens through reasoned arguments and debate. Democracy requires discussion and argument. Lee Siegel explains the importance of argument for humanity. Indeed, his case goes well beyond politics or democracy. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to remove arguments from democracy. It’s no accident the Greeks developed philosophy, rhetoric, and philosophy around the same time as each other.
Lee Siegel, Why Argument Matters
The Advantage of Disadvantage
Protest movements have become increasingly important in recent years. Black Lives Matter has shown the power of protest to bring attention to the concerns of political disadvantaged groups. However, the recent protests of Canadien truckers has shown even conservatives have discovered the power of protests. Gause argues marginalized groups have the most to gain from protest as a form of political mobilization. This book deserves attention as protest becomes a more common tool used in democratic societies.
LaGina Gause, The Advantage of Disadvantage: Costly Protest and Political Representation for Marginalized Groups
A Blue New Deal
Elizabeth Warren has publicly made the case for a new blue deal, so it’s only appropriate to develop these sentiments into a coherent framework. Chris Armstrong takes a sentiment many intellectuals, activists, and politicians have already considered, but expands it into a well thought out proposal. Global warming is the catalyst for action, but Armstrong argues a revision of oceanic policy is long overdue. It’s an interesting study, because it touches on aspects of domestic and international law. It’s an under appreciated topic that deserves a read.
Chris Armstrong, A Blue New Deal: Why We Need a New Politics for the Ocean
Marcel Gauchet and the Crisis of Democratic Politics
Marcel Gauchet is an influential French scholar who has made important contributions to democratic thought. This volume introduces some of Gauchet’s writings, but also puts them into context through additional essays about his work. It’s a deep dive into a very specific theorist so it may not receive much attention outside the academy. But many political theorists will definitely take a look and it will likely become a part of many reading lists for graduate students of political theory and political philosophy.
Natalie J. Doyle and Sean McMorrow (eds.), Marcel Gauchet and the Crisis of Democratic Politics