A Passion for Democracy: American Essays

Overview

"If I were to put together a short list of a dozen scholars who might. . .contribute to the rhetoric and thought of a presidency, I would put Ben Barber on the list."—William Galston, former deputy assistant for domestic policy to Bill Clinton (quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Overview

"If I were to put together a short list of a dozen scholars who might. . .contribute to the rhetoric and thought of a presidency, I would put Ben Barber on the list."—William Galston, former deputy assistant for domestic policy to Bill Clinton (quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Newark Star-Ledger
Enlightening.... Politicians and history teachers, citizens even, would be wise to pick up this collection.
— Kathleen Daley
Newark Star-Ledger - Kathleen Daley
Enlightening.... Politicians and history teachers, citizens even, would be wise to pick up this collection.
Reason - Loren Lomasky
The essays in A Passion for Democracy offer nuggets of keen historical insight and every so often connect with a sharp dart to the complacent regions of liberal capitalism. . . . It doesn't hurt that, in an arena in which turgid, jargon-ridden prose is the rule, Barber can spin a phrase with the dexterity of Derek Jeter turning a double-play at second base.
From the Publisher
"Barber opens up the way for reexamining just what our role must be in the cause of Democracy. A stunning and sobering look at civil society at the century's end."—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Overall, the work is typical Barber: well written, conceptually fascinating, and astutely relevant."—Choice

"Enlightening.... Politicians and history teachers, citizens even, would be wise to pick up this collection."—Kathleen Daley, Newark Star-Ledger

"The essays in A Passion for Democracy offer nuggets of keen historical insight and every so often connect with a sharp dart to the complacent regions of liberal capitalism. . . . It doesn't hurt that, in an arena in which turgid, jargon-ridden prose is the rule, Barber can spin a phrase with the dexterity of Derek Jeter turning a double-play at second base."—Loren Lomasky, Reason

Virginia Quarterly Review
Barber opens up the way for reexamining just what our role must be in the cause of Democracy. A stunning and sobering look at civil society at the century's end.
Choice
Overall, the work is typical Barber: well written, conceptually fascinating, and astutely relevant.
Reason
The essays in A Passion for Democracy offer nuggets of keen historical insight and every so often connect with a sharp dart to the complacent regions of liberal capitalism. . . . It doesn't hurt that, in an arena in which turgid, jargon-ridden prose is the rule, Barber can spin a phrase with the dexterity of Derek Jeter turning a double-play at second base.
— Loren Lomasky
Reason
The essays in A Passion for Democracy offer nuggets of keen historical insight and every so often connect with a sharp dart to the complacent regions of liberal capitalism. . . . It doesn't hurt that, in an arena in which turgid, jargon-ridden prose is the rule, Barber can spin a phrase with the dexterity of Derek Jeter turning a double-play at second base.
— Loren Lomasky
Library Journal
In this thought-provoking anthology, political theorist Barber Jihad v. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the New World, LJ 8/95 has collected and revised 20 of his essays examining the strengths and weaknesses of various political ideas that have shaped American political thought. He often waxes poetic as he argues in erudite prose that America has swung too far to "liberal democracy," emphasizing individual rights at the expense of citizen participation and consent. Barber believes that the aim of democracy should be "harmony" resulting from citizen involvement rather than the "cacophony" that results from libertarianism. Ultimately, Barber claims, this "harmony" is created not by accepting one or another idea of government but by the active involvement of citizens in the political process. Frequent references to classical and contemporary political philosophers buttress the author's closely reasoned narratives. Though not easy reading, Barber's clear, stylistic prose offers readers an incisive look into the ideas that have formed their government. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.Jack Forman, Mesa Coll. Lib., San Diego
Virginia Quarterly Review
Barber opens up the way for reexamining just what our role must be in the cause of Democracy. A stunning and sobering look at civil society at the century's end.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691050249
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/13/2000
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. I American Theory: Democracy, Liberalism, and Rights
Ch. 1 Liberal Democracy and the Costs of Consent 3
Ch. 2 Foundationalism and Democracy 19
Ch. 3 Why Democracy Must Be Liberal: An Epitaph for Marxism 31
Ch. 4 The Compromised Republic: Public Purposelessness in America 41
Ch. 5 The Rights of We the People Are All the Rights There Are 60
Ch. 6 Have Rights Gone Wrong? The Reconstruction of Rights 79
Pt. II American Practice: Leadership, Citizenship, and Censorship
Ch. 7 Neither Leaders nor Followers: Citizenship under Strong Democracy 95
Ch. 8 Command Performance: Where Have All the Leaders Gone? 111
Ch. 9 The Undemocratic Party System: Citizenship in an Elite/Mass Society 119
Ch. 10 One Nation Indivisible or a Compact of Sovereign States? The Two Faces of Federalism 134
Ch. 11 The Market as Censor in a World of Consumer Totalism 143
Pt. III Education for Democracy: Civic Education, Service, and Citizenship
Ch. 12 Thomas Jefferson and the Education of the Citizen 161
Ch. 13 The Civic Mission of the University 178
Ch. 14 Service, Citizenship, and Democracy: Civic Duty as an Entailment of Civil Right 187
Ch. 15 Cultural Conservatism and Democratic Education: Lessons from the Sixties 203
Ch. 16 America Skips School: Why We Talk So Much about Education and Do So Little 214
Ch. 17 Education for Democracy 225
Pt. IV Democracy and Technology: Endless Frontier or End of Democracy?
Ch. 18 The Second American Revolution 237
Ch. 19 Pangloss, Pandora, or Jefferson? Three Scenarios for the Future of Technology and Democracy 245
Ch. 20 The New Telecommunications Technology: Endless Frontier or the End of Democracy? 258
Index 283
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2004

    Required reading for any US citizen worthy of the name.

    I saw Benjamin Barber on PBS late July 2004, and checked out this book from the local library. One essay alone, 'Civic Mission of the University' should be required reading for anyone involved in education. Barber's prose is dense and not an easy read for people accustomed to lesser scribes, but every word counts, and he writes with dry humor throughout; I laughed as he enlightened me. It may require slow, thorough re-readings to absorb the entire content, very much like Robert Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', which is the closest thing I can think of to compare it to. Pirsig's book explores the self, and Barber does the same for society. One chapter alone justifies buying the whole book, but after that there's a lot more. I ordered a copy so I could take the time it requires.

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