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Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper)

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Overview

Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost cliché. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In Democracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms "inverted totalitarianism"?

Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive--and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a "managed democracy" where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today's America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today's politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy's best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level.

Democracy Incorporated is one of the most worrying diagnoses of America's political ills to emerge in decades. It is sure to be a lightning rod for political debate for years to come.

In a new preface, Wolin describes how the Obama administration, despite promises of change, has left the underlying dynamics of managed democracy intact.

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Editorial Reviews

Truthdig
[A] comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. . . . Democracy Incorporated is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States—including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors.
— Chalmers Johnson
Choice
[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct.
— C. P. Waligorski
International Affairs
Sheldon Wolin has produced an ambitious and broad-ranging book that examines the current state of democracy in America. . . . Wolin argues that the unquestioned faith in the virtues of free market capitalism has dramatically narrowed the range of policy options that are on the table when debate turns to resolving the US's ills. . . .[T]his is a trenchant and powerful volume.
— Alex Waddan
Artforum
Of the many books I've read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process.
— Jonathan Crary
Out in Jersey
[W]e need to understand the deep roots of our present troubles ourselves and Wolin's book is an excellent beginning.
— Toby Grace
Political Studies Review
Democracy Incorporated acts as an antidote to unconstrained corporate power and an elitist obsession and should be widely read by all those who cherish democracy and civil liberty.
— Shih-Yu Chou
Journal of Church and State
[Wolin] provides a rich narrative of the struggle of elites and the demos from ancient Greece through the writing of the U.S. Constitution and into the present, and the corporate-managed politics that has emerged will survive no matter which party holds Congress or the presidency.
— Coleman Fannin
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
Despite being written shortly before both the financial crisis and the Obama victory, the main lineaments of his analysis are still alarmingly cogent.
— Tom Angier
Truthdig - Chalmers Johnson
[A] comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. . . . Democracy Incorporated is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States—including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors.
Choice - C.P. Waligorski
[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct.
International Affairs - Alex Waddan
Sheldon Wolin has produced an ambitious and broad-ranging book that examines the current state of democracy in America. . . . Wolin argues that the unquestioned faith in the virtues of free market capitalism has dramatically narrowed the range of policy options that are on the table when debate turns to resolving the US's ills. . . .[T]his is a trenchant and powerful volume.
Artforum - Jonathan Crary
Of the many books I've read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process.
Out in Jersey - Toby Grace
[W]e need to understand the deep roots of our present troubles ourselves and Wolin's book is an excellent beginning.
Political Studies Review - Shih-Yu Chou
Democracy Incorporated acts as an antidote to unconstrained corporate power and an elitist obsession and should be widely read by all those who cherish democracy and civil liberty.
Journal of Church and State - Coleman Fannin
[Wolin] provides a rich narrative of the struggle of elites and the demos from ancient Greece through the writing of the U.S. Constitution and into the present, and the corporate-managed politics that has emerged will survive no matter which party holds Congress or the presidency.
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books - Tom Angier
Despite being written shortly before both the financial crisis and the Obama victory, the main lineaments of his analysis are still alarmingly cogent.
Choice - C. P. Waligorski
[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct.
From the Publisher

Winner of the 2008 Lannan Notable Book Award, Lannan Foundation

"[A] comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. . . . Democracy Incorporated is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States--including what has happened to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors."--Chalmers Johnson, Truthdig

"[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct."--C. P. Waligorski, Choice

"Sheldon Wolin has produced an ambitious and broad-ranging book that examines the current state of democracy in America. . . . Wolin argues that the unquestioned faith in the virtues of free market capitalism has dramatically narrowed the range of policy options that are on the table when debate turns to resolving the US's ills. . . .[T]his is a trenchant and powerful volume."--Alex Waddan, International Affairs

"Of the many books I've read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process."--Jonathan Crary, Artforum

"[W]e need to understand the deep roots of our present troubles ourselves and Wolin's book is an excellent beginning."--Toby Grace, Out in Jersey

"Democracy Incorporated acts as an antidote to unconstrained corporate power and an elitist obsession and should be widely read by all those who cherish democracy and civil liberty."--Shih-Yu Chou, Political Studies Review

"[Wolin] provides a rich narrative of the struggle of elites and the demos from ancient Greece through the writing of the U.S. Constitution and into the present, and the corporate-managed politics that has emerged will survive no matter which party holds Congress or the presidency."--Coleman Fannin, Journal of Church and State

"Despite being written shortly before both the financial crisis and the Obama victory, the main lineaments of his analysis are still alarmingly cogent."--Tom Angier, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Choice
[Democracy Incorporated provides] a rare, chilling analysis of intellectual critics of democracy. If democracy means more than occasional elections and protection of those rights that are compatible with economic and political elites' interests, Wolin's analysis of our democratic predicament is shocking, solid, and fundamentally correct.
— C. P. Waligorski
Artforum
Of the many books I've read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process.
— Jonathan Crary
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691145891
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/21/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 192,765
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Sheldon S. Wolin is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University. His books include "Politics and Vision" and "Tocqueville between Two Worlds" (both Princeton).
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xxv

Preview 1

Chapter 1 Myth in the Making 4

Chapter 2 Totalitarianism's Inversion: Beginnings of the Imaginary of a Permanent Global War 15

Chapter 3 Totalitarianism's Inversion, Democracy's Perversion 41

Chapter 4 The New World of Terror 69

Chapter 5 The Utopian Theory of Superpower: The Official Version 82

Chapter 6 The Dynamics of Transformation 95

Chapter 7 The Dynamics of the Archaic 114

Chapter 8 The Politics of Superpower: Managed Democracy 131

Chapter 9 Intellectual Elites against Democracy 159

Chapter 10 Domestic Politics in the Era of Superpower and Empire 184

Chapter 11 Inverted Totalitarianism: Antecedents and Precedents 211

Chapter 12 Demotic Moments 238

Chapter 13 Democracy's Prospects: Looking Backwards 259

Notes 293

Index 339

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2014

    HE TRIES TO MAKE AN ARGUMENT THAT THE PLUTOCRACY IN WASHINGTON I

    HE TRIES TO MAKE AN ARGUMENT THAT THE PLUTOCRACY IN WASHINGTON IS RUN BY CORPORATE TECHNOCRATS AND THAT THEY WANT TO CREAT A FASCIST STATE.  HE RUNS INTO PROBLEMS WHEN HE TRIES TO ARGUE THAT THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM THE GOOD OLD FASHION FASCISM OF THE WORLD WAR II ERA.  BUT IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HITLER'S, TOJO'S AMD MUSSOLINI'S INVOLVEMENT WITH CORPORATION AND TECHNOCRATS THAT RAISED THEM TO POWER YOU REALIZE THAT MR.WOLIN FAILS TO MAKE HIS ARGUMENT.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Preliminary Review

    Professor Wolin's book deserves a careful, critical review that I am not able to write. The work very much impresses me. I think it an important and helpful work. Without way of French literary criticism or Frankfurt School theoretical sources, he presents a comprehensive and fundamental analysis of political and economic life in both the United States and the world. I had not realized at first that I had read Professor Wolin decades ago when I was an undergraduate. The argument is original, well-founded, even practical, and constructive. I will read it again soon and read it more closely.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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