Book picks similar to
The Transformation of Democracy by Vilfredo Pareto
Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Noam Chomsky - 2002
Noam Chomsky is universally accepted as one of the preeminent public intellectuals of the modern era. Over the past thirty years, broadly diverse audiences have gathered to attend his sold-out lectures. Now, in Understanding Power, Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel have assembled the best of Chomsky's recent talks on the past, present, and future of the politics of power. In a series of enlightening and wide-ranging discussions, all published here for the first time, Chomsky radically reinterprets the events of the past three decades, covering topics from foreign policy during Vietnam to the decline of welfare under the Clinton administration. And as he elucidates the connection between America's imperialistic foreign policy and the decline of domestic social services, Chomsky also discerns the necessary steps to take toward social change. With an eye to political activism and the media's role in popular struggle, as well as U.S. foreign and domestic policy, Understanding Power offers a sweeping critique of the world around us and is definitive Chomsky. Characterized by Chomsky's accessible and informative style, this is the ideal book for those new to his work as well as for those who have been listening for years.
The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita - 2011
They start from a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power. They don’t care about the “national interest”—or even their subjects—unless they have to. This clever and accessible book shows that the difference between tyrants and democrats is just a convenient fiction. Governments do not differ in kind but only in the number of essential supporters, or backs that need scratching. The size of this group determines almost everything about politics: what leaders can get away with, and the quality of life or misery under them. The picture the authors paint is not pretty. But it just may be the truth, which is a good starting point for anyone seeking to improve human governance.
The Origins of Totalitarianism
Hannah Arendt - 1951
Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.
The Anatomy of Fascism
Robert O. Paxton - 2004
The esteemed historian Robert O. Paxton answers this question for the first time by focusing on the concrete: what the fascists did, rather than what they said. From the first violent uniformed bands beating up “enemies of the state,” through Mussolini’s rise to power, to Germany’s fascist radicalization in World War II, Paxton shows clearly why fascists came to power in some countries and not others, and explores whether fascism could exist outside the early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged. The Anatomy of Fascism will have a lasting impact on our understanding of modern European history, just as Paxton’s classic Vichy France redefined our vision of World War II. Based on a lifetime of research, this compelling and important book transforms our knowledge of fascism–“the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain.”
Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government
Christopher H. Achen - 2016
They demonstrate that voters even those who are well informed and politically engaged mostly choose parties and candidates on the basis of social identities and partisan loyalties, not political issues. They also show that voters adjust their policy views and even their perceptions of basic matters of fact to match those loyalties. When parties are roughly evenly matched, elections often turn on irrelevant or misleading considerations such as economic spurts or downturns beyond the incumbents' control; the outcomes are essentially random. Thus, voters do not control the course of public policy, even indirectly.Achen and Bartels argue that democratic theory needs to be founded on identity groups and political parties, not on the preferences of individual voters. "Democracy for Realists" provides a powerful challenge to conventional thinking, pointing the way toward a fundamentally different understanding of the realities and potential of democratic government."
Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
Anne Applebaum - 2020
In Twilight of Democracy, prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum offers an unexpected explanation: that there is a deep and inherent appeal to authoritarianism, to strongmen, and, especially, to one-party rule--that is, to political systems that benefit true believers, or loyal soldiers, or simply the friends and distant cousins of the Leader, to the exclusion of everyone else.People, she argues, are not just ideological; they are also practical, pragmatic, opportunistic. They worry about their families, their houses, their careers. Some political systems offer them possibilities, and others don't. In particular, the modern authoritarian parties that have arisen within democracies today offer the possibility of success to people who do not thrive in the meritocratic, democratic, or free-market competition that determines access to wealth and power.Drawing on reporting in Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, and Brazil; using historical examples including Stalinist central Europe and Nazi Germany; and investigating related phenomena: the modern conspiracy theory, nostalgia for a golden past, political polarization, and meritocracy and its discontents, Anne Applebaum brilliantly illuminates the seduction of totalitarian thinking and the eternal appeal of the one-party state.
The Civilizing Process
Norbert Elias - 1939
The Civilizing Process stands out as Norbert Elias' greatest work, tracing the civilizing of manners and personality in Western Europe since the late Middle Ages by demonstrating how the formation of states and the monopolization of power within them changed Western society forever.
War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires
Peter Turchin - 2005
Turchin argues that the key to the formation of an empire is a society’s capacity for collective action. He demonstrates that high levels of cooperation are found where people have to band together to fight off a common enemy, and that this kind of cooperation led to the formation of the Roman and Russian empires, and the United States. But as empires grow, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, conflict replaces cooperation, and dissolution inevitably follows. Eloquently argued and rich with historical examples, War and Peace and War offers a bold new theory about the course of world history.
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them
Jason F. Stanley - 2018
A Yale philosopher identifies the ten pillars of fascist politics, and charts their horrifying rise and deep history.As the child of refugees of World War II Europe and a renowned philosopher and scholar of propaganda, Jason Stanley has a deep understanding of how democratic societies can be vulnerable to fascism: Nations don't have to be fascist to suffer from fascist politics. In fact, fascism's roots have been present in the United States for more than a century. Alarmed by the pervasive rise of fascist tactics both at home and around the globe, Stanley focuses here on the structures that unite them, laying out and analyzing the ten pillars of fascist politics--the language and beliefs that separate people into an "us" and a "them." He knits together reflections on history, philosophy, sociology, and critical race theory with stories from contemporary Hungary, Poland, India, Myanmar, and the United States, among other nations. He makes clear the immense danger of underestimating the cumulative power of these tactics, which include exploiting a mythic version of a nation's past; propaganda that twists the language of democratic ideals against themselves; anti-intellectualism directed against universities and experts; law and order politics predicated on the assumption that members of minority groups are criminals; and fierce attacks on labor groups and welfare. These mechanisms all build on one another, creating and reinforcing divisions and shaping a society vulnerable to the appeals of authoritarian leadership.By uncovering disturbing patterns that are as prevalent today as ever, Stanley reveals that the stuff of politics—charged by rhetoric and myth—can quickly become policy and reality. Only by recognizing fascists politics, he argues, may we resist its most harmful effects and return to democratic ideals.
Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School
Stuart Jeffries - 2016
Among the most prominent members of what became the Frankfurt School were the philosophers Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. Not only would they change the way we think, but also the subjects we deem worthy of intellectual investigation. Their lives, like their ideas, profoundly, sometimes tragically, reflected and shaped the shattering events of the twentieth century.Grand Hotel Abyss combines biography, philosophy, and storytelling to reveal how the Frankfurt thinkers gathered in hopes of understanding the politics of culture during the rise of fascism. Some of them, forced to escape the horrors of Nazi Germany, later found exile in the United States. Benjamin, with his last great work—the incomplete Arcades Project—in his suitcase, was arrested in Spain and committed suicide when threatened with deportation to Nazi-occupied France. On the other side of the Atlantic, Adorno failed in his bid to become a Hollywood screenwriter, denounced jazz, and even met Charlie Chaplin in Malibu.After the war, there was a resurgence of interest in the School. From the relative comfort of sun-drenched California, Herbert Marcuse wrote the classic One Dimensional Man, which influenced the 1960s counterculture and thinkers such as Angela Davis; while in a tragic coda, Adorno died from a heart attack following confrontations with student radicals in Berlin.By taking popular culture seriously as an object of study—whether it was film, music, ideas, or consumerism—the Frankfurt School elaborated upon the nature and crisis of our mass-produced, mechanised society. Grand Hotel Abyss shows how much these ideas still tell us about our age of social media and runaway consumption.
Power: A Radical View
Steven Lukes - 1986
Power: A Radical View assesses the main debates about how to conceptualize and study power, including the influential contributions of Michel Foucault. Power Revisited reconsiders Steven Lukes' own views in light of these debates and of criticisms of his original argument.With a new introduction and bibliographical essay, this book has consolidated its reputation as a classic work and a major reference point within Social and Political Theory. It can be used on modules across the Social and Political Sciences dealing with the concept of power and its manifestation in the world. It is also essential reading for all undergraduate and postgraduates interested in the history of Social and Political Thought.
Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
Francis Fukuyama - 2018
Two years later, his predictions were borne out by the rise to power of a series of political outsiders whose economic nationalism and authoritarian tendencies threatened to destabilize the entire international order. These populist nationalists seek direct charismatic connection to "the people," who are usually defined in narrow identity terms that offer an irresistible call to an in-group and exclude large parts of the population as a whole.Demand for recognition of one's identity is a master concept that unifies much of what is going on in world politics today. The universal recognition on which liberal democracy is based has been increasingly challenged by narrower forms of recognition based on nation, religion, sect, race, ethnicity, or gender, which have resulted in anti-immigrant populism, the upsurge of politicized Islam, the fractious "identity liberalism" of college campuses, and the emergence of white nationalism. Populist nationalism, said to be rooted in economic motivation, actually springs from the demand for recognition and therefore cannot simply be satisfied by economic means. The demand for identity cannot be transcended; we must begin to shape identity in a way that supports rather than undermines democracy.Identity is an urgent and necessary book--a sharp warning that unless we forge a universal understanding of human dignity, we will doom ourselves to continuing conflict.
Hard America, Soft America: Competition Vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future
Michael Barone - 2004
Indeed, American students lag behind their peers in other nations, but America remains on the leading edge economically, scientifically, technologically, and militarily. The reason for this paradox, explains Barone in this brilliant essay, is that “from ages six to eighteen Americans live mostly in what I call Soft America—the parts of our country where there is little competition and accountability. But from ages eighteen to thirty Americans live mostly in Hard America—the parts of American life subject to competition and accountability.” While Soft America coddles, Hard America plays for keeps. Educators, for example, protect children from the rigors of testing, ban dodgeball, and promote just about any student who shows up. But most adults quickly figure out that how they do depends on what they produce. Barone sweeps readers along, showing how we came to the current divide—for things weren’t always this way. In fact, no part of our society is all Hard or all Soft, and the boundary between Hard America and Soft America often moves back and forth. Barone also shows where America is headed—or should be headed. We don’t want to subject kindergartners to the rigors of the Marine Corps or leave old people uncared for. But Soft America lives off the productivity, creativity, and competence of Hard America, and we have the luxury of keeping part of our society Soft only if we keep most of it Hard.Hard America, Soft America reveals: • How the American situation is unique: In Europe, schooling is competitive and demanding, but adult life is Soft, with generous welfare benefits, short work hours, long vacations, and state pensions• How the American military has reclaimed the Hard goals and programs it abandoned in the Vietnam era• How Hardness drives America’s economy—an economy that businesses and economists nearly destroyed in the 1970s by spurning competition • How America’s schools have failed because they are bastions of Softness—but how they are finally showing signs of Hardening• The benefits of Softness: How government programs like Social Security were necessary in what was a harsh and unforgiving America• Hard America, Soft America is a stunningly original and provocative work of social commentary from one of this country’s most respected political analysts.From the Hardcover edition.
The Concept of the Political
Carl Schmitt - 1927
This edition of the 1932 work includes the translator's introduction (by George Schwab) which highlights Schmitt's intellectual journey through the turbulent period of German history leading to the Hitlerian one-party state. It also includes Leo Strauss's analysis of Schmitt's thesis and a foreword by Tracy B. Strong placing Schmitt's work into contemporary context.
Political Parties : A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy
Robert Michels - 1911
It is considered one of the classics of social sciences, in particular sociology and political science.This work analyses the power structures of organizations such as political parties and trade unions. Michels's main argument is that all organizations, even those in theory most egalitarian and most committed to democracy – like socialist political parties – are in fact oligarchical, and dominated by a small group of leadership. The book also provides a first systematic analysis of how a radical political party loses its radical goals under the dynamics of electoral participation. The origins of moderation theory can be found in this analysis.(This is a translation. Book was first published in German under the title Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie; Untersuchungen über die oligarchischen Tendenzen des Gruppenlebens.)