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. (shrink)
Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, and Joel and Ethan Coen’s film adaptation of the same name, deliver two separate critiques of sacrificial violence through their particular renderings of Carla Jean Moss’s death scene, as they correspond, respectively, to the theories of René Girard and Slavoj Žižek. In both film and novel, the chase narrative offers a concrete representation of runaway acquisitive mimesis engendering resentment and cathartic violence. This violence is symbolically manifest in the character of Anton Chigurh. An (...) assassin whose killings often employ a ritual of chance, Chigurh is a symbol for both the violence foundational to culture and the fascinating draw such violence continues to have .. (shrink)
Terrorisme valt buiten alle democratische kaders en daarom hebben democratische landen er geen adequate antwoorden op. Het enige antwoord op de krachten, die chaos en angst zaaien is een wereldwijde open samenleving, met politieke vrijheid en ruimte voor religies.
De eigentijdse geschiedenis zwenkt naar twee kanten: het oprukken van McWorld, de triomf van commercie en marktbeheersing en de door haar gedreven stamvorming, die bestaande multi-ethnische eenheden dreigt te verpulveren. Jihad en McWorld hebben vele trekken gemeenschappelijk zoals afkeer van democratie en echte cultuur. Tussen consument en burger gaapt een diepe kloof. Alleen een verantwoordelijke samenleving kan als een buffer tussen overheid en privé-sector dienen en een halt toeroepen aan de overwoekering van McWorld. Van de jihad, die een bloedige politiek (...) van identiteit bedrijft, is geen enkel heil te verwachten. (shrink)
The polarization of the individual and the community that underlies much of the debate between individualists and communitarians is made possible in part by the literal vanishingof civil society—the domain whose middling terms mediate the stark opposition of state and private sectors and offer women and men a space for activity that is both voluntary and public. Modern democratic ideology and the reality of our political practices sometimesseem to yield only a choice between elephantine and paternalistic government or a radically (...) solipsistic and nearly anarchic private market sector—overnment gargantuanism or private greed. Americans do not much like either one. President Clinton's callfor national service draws us out of our selfishness without kindling any affection for government. Private markets service our avarice without causing us to like ourselves. The question of how America's decentralized and multi-vocal public can secure a coherentvoice in debates over public policy under the conditions precipitated by so hollow and disjunctive a dichotomy is perhaps the most important issue facing both the political theory and social science of democracy and the practice of democratic politics in America today. Two recent stories out of Washington suggest just how grave the situation has become. Health-care reform failed in a paroxysm of mutual recrimination highlighted by the successful campaign of the private sector against a presidential program that seemed to be widely misunderstood. The public at large simply went missing in the debates. (shrink)