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.
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.
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.