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San Francisco ChroniclePhilosophers and policy experts often look for answers by drawing strong conceptual oppositions. The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy, however, shows the shared dilemmas of writers who may themselves think they have nothing in common. This book-length essay tries to make sense of these philosophical and political contradictions by seeing them as necessary tensions in our attempts to reconcile competing values. For Brenkman, the contradictions of our political discourse reveal aspirations for freedom and democracy, for liberty and community. When we strive for freedom, we must learn to live with contradictions...Brenkman is that rare academic who can write well about both contemporary political practice and theory. His description of how the Bush administration was seized by power is insightful, and his critique of contemporary theory star Giorgio Agamben is concise and compelling.
— Michael Roth