Democracy Books This Week
Like everyone else my mind remains fixated on the War in Ukraine. Unfortunately, it will take months, maybe years, before anyone writes an account of the war. However, a few books published this week touch on subjects or themes relevant to the war. Andrew Imbrie and Ben Buchanan offer a prophecy of what war might become in an era of artificial intelligence in The New Fire, while Richard Hasen focuses on the role of disinformation in politics and international relations in Cheap Speech. Other books touch on diverse topics from feminism to Indian politics to human rights. A few of the books like In Defense of Witches target a wide audience, while others like Democratic Governance and Human Rights may serve as texts for graduate seminars. But like always new books continue to provide insights on democracy.
Make sure to listen to this week’s podcast featuring Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili and Ilia Murtazashvili. It’s an unconventional examination of governance in Afghanistan. You can also support the podcast by making a monthly contribution at Patreon to access bonus interviews and other content.
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The New Fire
The War in Ukraine is the first major conflict where artificial intelligence will likely play a major role. So, far cyber attacks have played a secondary role to traditional military force. However, artificial intelligence is likely to play a larger role as the West begins to play a larger role as the conflict expands. Andrew Imbrie and Ben Buchanan offer an examination on the role of artificial intelligence, however it is particularly insightful on its role in conflicts between nations. It’s likely to serve as an important work for a world that finds itself at war.
Andrew Imbrie and Ben Buchanan, The New Fire: War, Peace, and Democracy in the Age of AI
Russia has distorted its purpose in the war through a combination of censorship and propaganda. The New York Times reports Ukranian family members in Russia do not believe there is a war in Ukraine. Richard Hasen’s new book Cheap Speech could not have come at a better time. There is no more important time to protect free speech while dispelling misinformation than during times of war. Hasen is not an expert on foreign policy, but times have changed. Anyone focused on international relations in these times must include Cheap Speech in their reading list.
Richard L. Hasen, Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics—and How to Cure It
In Defense of Witches
A few years ago Stacy Schiff wrote The Witches. It focused on the history of the Salem Witch Trials. Mona Chollet expands the scope to consider the witch through a broader range of examples. Moreover, she makes an even more explicit case to tie the image of the witch to an attack on women. Chollet offers less of a history than pure social criticism. It’s an important read for anyone who considers themselves a feminist or simply a supporter of women with strong opinions.
Mona Chollet, In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial
Democracy and Social Cleavage in India
A recent episode of the podcast began with an account of West Bengal and the leadership of Mamata Banerjee. Debasish Roy Chowdhury detailed the political violence and some of the history of this region in India. Suman Nath provides an even more in-depth examination of West Bengal and its recent history. So, much of the literature on Indian politics focuses on Narendra Modi and the BJP. However, India is a federal system so it’s important to understand more local politics to understand the country as a whole.
Suman Nath, Democracy and Social Cleavage in India: Ethnography of Riots, Everyday Politics and Communalism in West Bengal c. 2012–2021
Democratic Governance and Human Rights
Liberal democracy draws a close association between the rule of law, human rights, and political freedom through elections and responsive government. John Shelley connects the dots between democratic governance and human rights. Moreover, Shelley explains why human rights are essential to democracy and why democracy is necessary for the protection of human rights. It’s a great text for anyone who wants to understand the role of law and rights in a democracy.
John Shelley, Democratic Governance and Human Rights
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