Benjamin Barber is one of America's preeminent political theorists. He has been a significant voice in the continuing debate about the nature and role of democracy in the contemporary world. A Passion for Democracy collects twenty of his most important writings on American democracy. Together they refine his distinctive position in democratic theory. Barber's conception of "strong democracy" contrasts with traditional concepts of "liberal democracy," especially in its emphasis on citizen participation in central issues of public debate. These essays critique the "thin representation" of liberal democracy and buttress the arguments presented in Barber's twelve books, most recently in his well-received Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Re-shaping the World. In these pieces, Barber argues for participatory democracy without dependence on abstract metaphysical foundations, and he stresses the relationship among democracy and civil society, civic education, and culture.
A Passion for Democracy is divided into four sections. In the first, "American Theory: Democracy, Liberalism, and Rights," Barber addresses issues of ongoing relevance to today's debates about the roots of participatory democracy, including individualism vs. community, the importance of consent, and the irrelevance of Marxism. Essays in the second section, "American Practice: Leadership, Citizenship, and Censorship" provide a "strong democracy" critique of American democratic practice. "Education for Democracy: Civic Education, Service, and Citizenship" applies Barber's theories to three related topics and includes his much-discussed essay "America Skips School." The final section, "Democracy and Technology: Endless Frontier or End of Democracy?" provides glimpses into a future that technology alone cannot secure for democracy.
In his preface, Barber writes: "In these essays ... I have been hard on my country. Like most ardent democrats, I want more for it than it has achieved, despite the fact that it has achieved more than most people have dared to want." This wide-ranging collection displays not only his passion for democracy, but also his unique perspective on issues of abiding importance for the democratic process.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||7.75(w) x 10.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Benjamin R. Barber is Whitman Professor of Political Science and Director of the Walt Whitman Center for the Culture and Politics of Democracy at Rutgers University. Among his many books are The Conquest of Politics (Princeton), which collects his philosophical essays, An Aristocracy of Everyone, and Jihad vs. McWorld.
Table of ContentsPreface
Pt. I American Theory: Democracy, Liberalism, and Rights
Ch. 1 Liberal Democracy and the Costs of Consent
Ch. 2 Foundationalism and Democracy
Ch. 3 Why Democracy Must Be Liberal: An Epitaph for Marxism
Ch. 4 The Compromised Republic: Public Purposelessness in America
Ch. 5 The Rights of We the People Are All the Rights There Are
Ch. 6 Have Rights Gone Wrong? The Reconstruction of Rights
Pt. II American Practice: Leadership, Citizenship, and Censorship
Ch. 7 Neither Leaders nor Followers: Citizenship under Strong Democracy
Ch. 8 Command Performance: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Ch. 9 The Undemocratic Party System: Citizenship in an Elite/Mass Society
Ch. 10 One Nation Indivisible or a Compact of Sovereign States? The Two Faces of Federalism
Ch. 11 The Market as Censor in a World of Consumer Totalism
Pt. III Education for Democracy: Civic Education, Service, and Citizenship
Ch. 12 Thomas Jefferson and the Education of the Citizen
Ch. 13 The Civic Mission of the University
Ch. 14 Service, Citizenship, and Democracy: Civic Duty as an Entailment of Civil Right
Ch. 15 Cultural Conservatism and Democratic Education: Lessons from the Sixties
Ch. 16 America Skips School: Why We Talk So Much about Education and Do So Little
Ch. 17 Education for Democracy
Pt. IV Democracy and Technology: Endless Frontier or End of Democracy?
Ch. 18 The Second American Revolution
Ch. 19 Pangloss, Pandora, or Jefferson? Three Scenarios for the Future of Technology and Democracy
Ch. 20 The New Telecommunications Technology: Endless Frontier or the End of Democracy?
What People are Saying About This
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.