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Spring Book Issue.

Challenge Corporate Power; Assert the People's Rights

Radical Democracy by C. Douglas Lummis, Cornell University Press, 1996. This book is an exhilarating look at both the concept and practice of democracy. How confused we are about this form of political rule. Of course, our confusion is no surprise. The meaning of democracy has been "stolen by those who would rule over us," says Lummis. Democracy means rule by the people, and "demos," from which it is derived, stood for "the poorest and most numerous of people."

Lummis's radical democracy "describes an adventure of human beings creating with their own hands the conditions for their freedom, an adventure the main part of which is still to be undertaken.... a way in which people order their lives together, through discussion and common action, on principles of equality and justice." It is not a kind of government but an end of government and might better be thought of as an ideal or a project.

As we struggle to understand what this challenge of self-governance requires of us, we are helped by thinking about democracy as "a performance art," or "a state of public hope." Lummis offers assurance that we humans are capable of being democratic, of doing democracy, if we can "snap the ideological bonds that prevent us from assuming our natural attitude of democratic common sense."

Cities & the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life by Jane Jacobs, Vintage Books, Random House NY, 1985. A useful understanding of basic economics in the framework of decentralization and democracy.

The Populist Moment by Lawrence Goodwyn, Oxford University Press, 1978. The late 19th-century agrarian revolt known as Populism was the largest and most intense mass democratic movement in U.S. history. Goodwyn documents the motivations for and events of the movement, but more importantly, offers a fresh means for assessing both democracy and authoritarianism today. The book explores ways in which Populists had a broader vision for democracy than is common a century later and why.

Private Property & the Limits of American Constitutionalism by Jennifer Nedelsky, University of Chicago Press, 1990. A valuable analysis of the Constitution for the serious reader.

No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies by Naomi Klein, Picador USA, New York, 2000. First- person account by an investigative journalist tracking the early stages of backlash against multinational corporations. Klein analyzes and documents the forces opposing corporate rule and the particular set of cultural and economic conditions in different parts of the world that made the emergence of the opposition inevitable.

In the Absence of the Sacred by Jerry Mander, Serra Club Books, San Francisco, 1992. Puts corporations in a larger context, showing how the corporate form works its ways in the world and contrasts its characteristics with those needed for authentic democracy.
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Title Annotation:Review
Publication:Peace and Freedom
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2001
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