Podcast Ep. 11 – Juliet B. Schor

Larry Diamond once referred to the internet as a form of "liberation technology." But his most recent writings have warned of a "postmodern totalitarianism." Most of the democracy literature on the internet has focused on social media and artificial intelligence. However, the sharing economy has had a similar impact on capitalism and society. Uber, Lyft,... Continue Reading →

Werner Sombart – Why is there no Socialism in the United States

The campaign of Bernie Sanders was destined for failure. The American public has long rejected socialism as a political ideology despite its widespread embrace of social programs like Social Security, Medicare and Unemployment Insurance. The irony is redistributive programs have largely buttressed the capitalist system. They offer enough security to maintain widespread support for capitalism... Continue Reading →

Cristina Flesher Fominaya – Democracy Reloaded

The assemblies of 15-M and Occupy Wall Street were different from past mass movements or protests. They introduced mass public assemblies that offered an alternate vision of democracy based along a horizontal organizing logic. The assemblies were so large people used hand signals to communicate. And despite their numbers they were committed to the establishment... Continue Reading →

Robert Michels – Political Parties

The Iron Law of Oligarchy describes the role of elites to control organizations. Typically, this idea is translated to democratic governance but Michels restricted his original work to political parties. Indeed, his work is truly limited to just socialist parties. But this is the irony Michels recognized within socialist politics. Despite their emphasis on the... Continue Reading →

Alexis De Tocqueville – Democracy in America

Alexis de Tocqueville saw democracy as a dynamic political system. While it required specific cultural requirements for the people, it imposed many of those requirements onto the people. It gradually became self-sustaining whereas the monarchies of the Ancien Régime established conditions unfavorable for a sustainable democratic culture. Tocqueville did not believe democracy was limited to... Continue Reading →

Robert Putnam – Bowling Alone

The line between the political and the nonpolitical within a democracy is never clear. Alexis de Tocqueville noticed how politics became a common part of life for the average person. Civic engagement shifts from the activities of an organization into the demands of the community without any interruption. Robert Putnam follows a long tradition of... Continue Reading →

An Xiao Mina – Memes to Movements

Recent scholarship on Democracy has become obsessed with topics related to free expression especially related to online mediums. The digital revolution has expanded not just access to information, but the ways people communicate and express themselves. It has transformed political dissent and propaganda in ways nobody expected twenty years ago when everyone first recognized the... Continue Reading →

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