Fugitive Democracy: And Other Essays

Princeton University Press
Free sample

Sheldon Wolin was one of the most influential and original political thinkers of the past fifty years. In Fugitive Democracy, the breathtaking range of Wolin’s scholarship, political commitment, and critical acumen are on full display in this authoritative and accessible collection of essays. This book brings together his most important writings, from classic essays to his late radical essays on American democracy such as "Fugitive Democracy," in which he offers a controversial reinterpretation of democracy as an episodic phenomenon distinct from the routinized political management that passes for democracy today. Wolin critically engages a diverse range of political theorists, and grapples with topics such as power, modernization, the sixties, revolutionary politics, and inequality, all the while showcasing enduring commitment to writing civic-minded theoretical commentary on the most pressing political issues of the day. Fugitive Democracy offers enduring insights into many of today’s most pressing political predicaments, and introduces a whole new generation of readers to this provocative figure in contemporary political thought.
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About the author

Sheldon S. Wolin (1922–2015) was professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University. His books include Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated (both Princeton). Nicholas Xenos is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His books include Cloaked in Virtue.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Nov 13, 2018
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Pages
520
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ISBN
9780691185538
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Commentary & Opinion
Political Science / Essays
Political Science / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Political Ideologies / Democracy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Politics and Vision is a landmark work by one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. This is a significantly expanded edition of one of the greatest works of modern political theory. Sheldon Wolin's Politics and Vision inspired and instructed two generations of political theorists after its appearance in 1960. Substantially expanded for republication in 2004, it is both a sweeping survey of Western political thought and a powerful account of contemporary predicaments of power and democracy. In lucid and compelling prose, Sheldon Wolin offers original, subtle, and often surprising interpretations of political theorists from Plato to Rawls. Situating them historically while sounding their depths, he critically engages their diverse accounts of politics, theory, power, justice, citizenship, and institutions. The new chapters, which show how thinkers have grappled with the immense possibilities and dangers of modern power, are themselves a major theoretical statement. They culminate in Wolin’s remarkable argument that the United States has invented a new political form, "inverted totalitarianism,“ in which economic rather than political power is dangerously dominant. In this expanded edition, the book that helped to define political theory in the late twentieth century should energize, enlighten, and provoke generations of scholars to come.

Wolin originally wrote Politics and Vision to challenge the idea that political analysis should consist simply of the neutral observation of objective reality. He argues that political thinkers must also rely on creative vision. Wolin shows that great theorists have been driven to shape politics to some vision of the Good that lies outside the existing political order. As he tells it, the history of theory is thus, in part, the story of changing assumptions about the Good.


Acclaimed as a tour de force when it was first published, and a major scholarly event when the expanded edition appeared, Politics and Vision will instruct, inspire, and provoke for generations to come.

American democracy faces severe challenges today, as everyday life gathers pace, national borders become increasingly porous, and commodity culture becomes more dominant. Democracy and Vision assembles a cast of prominent political theorists to consider the problems confronting political life by reviewing, assessing, and expanding on the ideas of one of the most influential political thinkers of the past forty years, Sheldon Wolin.

The book consists of three sections linked by the underlying theme of Wolin's monumental effort to define ''the political'' and the conditions of democratic life. In the first, Nicholas Xenos, George Kateb, Fred Dallmayr, and Charles Taylor focus, in particular, on whether mass political participation, sustainable in times of upheaval as what Wolin aptly termed ''fugitive democracy,'' can be buoyed by political institutions during periods of stability. In the second section, Wendy Brown, Aryeh Botwinick, Melissa A. Orlie, and Anne Norton examine the relevance of Wolin's ideas to current debates about, for example, social diversity and the commercialization of culture. In the last, Stephen K. White, Kirstie M. McClure, Michael J. Shapiro, and J. Peter Euben address globalization and temporality in relation to Wolin's narrative of decline, asking, among other things, whether citizenship today must incorporate a cosmopolitan dimension.


These essays--and an introduction by William Connolly that lucidly outlines Wolin's thought and the deep uncertainty about political theory in the 1960s that did much to inspire his work--offer unprecedented insights into Wolin's lament that modernity has meant the loss of the political.

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. Now with a new introduction by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Chris Hedges, Democracy Incorporated remains an essential work for understanding the state of democracy in America.

From 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, a captivating account of how "a skinny Asian kid from upstate" became a successful entrepreneur, only to find a new mission: calling attention to the urgent steps America must take, including Universal Basic Income, to stabilize our economy amid rapid technological change and automation.

The shift toward automation is about to create a tsunami of unemployment. Not in the distant future--now. One recent estimate predicts 45 million American workers will lose their jobs within the next twelve years--jobs that won't be replaced. In a future marked by restlessness and chronic unemployment, what will happen to American society?

In The War on Normal People, Andrew Yang paints a dire portrait of the American economy. Rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics and automation software are making millions of Americans' livelihoods irrelevant. The consequences of these trends are already being felt across our communities in the form of political unrest, drug use, and other social ills. The future looks dire-but is it unavoidable?

In The War on Normal People, Yang imagines a different future--one in which having a job is distinct from the capacity to prosper and seek fulfillment. At this vision's core is Universal Basic Income, the concept of providing all citizens with a guaranteed income-and one that is rapidly gaining popularity among forward-thinking politicians and economists. Yang proposes that UBI is an essential step toward a new, more durable kind of economy, one he calls "human capitalism."
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