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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2010
Democracy For The Few is an outstanding scholarly review of capitalism as not just an economic model but as an entire social system. It brilliantly treats the contradiction between democratic and elitist values, relentlessly exposing the realities of class power and powerlessness. The author doesn't simply make assertions; he carefully considers the arguments underpinning capitalist legitimacy and finds them sorely wanting on rational grounds. He covers all the major themes of capitalism vs. democracy: the grotesquely lopsided distribution of wealth; corporate propaganda masquerading as objective journalism; self-serving mythology about the U.S. Founding Fathers; the subjugation of labor; the amelioration of capitalist exploitation with social democratic advances (the New Deal); the socialization of risk and the privatization of profit; military intervention abroad and the maintenance of a global system of power; ecological catastrophe and the attack on social programs; institutionalized injustice masquerading as law; political repression and incipient police state tactics; the international dimension of class struggle; elections as public relations extravaganzas; the buying of the Congress; the president as Commander in Chief of world empire; the partisan courts, and suggestions about how to transcend this system with real democracy.

Well researched, elegantly written, soundly argued. Buy it, use it, tell others about it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2011
Definitely not what you learn in high school or most college classes. This book gives a truer perspective of American Government and practices. Highly recommended read even if you disagree with what you find.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2014
This book is so profound and well written that I have a hard time leaving anything out of my review, the entire chapter 19 Democracy for the Few starting on page 268 is a good place to begin at the section titled "What is To Be Done" starting on the bottom of page 277 is vital must read material, another must read section is chapter 13 "Mass Media: For the Many, by the Few" starting on page 163, the section titled "The Ideological Monopoly" beginning on the top of page 167 is especially delicious. If you only buy one book a year this is the book you should buy and carefully read every last word in it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
This book explains how the American political system was designed by its founders not to establish government by the people but to limit and curtail democracy, which they viewed as simply mob rule; and how American history is a history of class struggle between the populace and a hostile ruling elite from whom further democratic gains had constantly to be wrested. It is written simply and clearly and its relevance has only increased since it was first written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2015
Excellent, excellent book. The voting population should seriously read this book to see how politics REALLY works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2015
Thank You, a great contribution to perspectives on US government from a left leaning progressive point of view very concerned about the elite democracy we have inherited.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2015
The USA is not a democracy. The word democracy isn't even mentioned, once, in the Declaration of Independence or in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were contemptuous toward democracy. They were aware of the evils that accompany a tyranny of the majority. The Framers of the Constitution went to great lengths to ensure that the federal government was not based on the will of the majority and was not, therefore, democratic.
If the Framers of the Constitution did not embrace democracy, what did they adhere to? To a man, the Framers agreed that the purpose of government was to secure citizens in John Locke’s trilogy of the rights to life, liberty and property. The Framers wrote extensively and eloquently. On property, for example, John Adams wrote that “the moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”
The Founders’ actions often spoke even louder than their words. Alexander Hamilton, a distinguished lawyer, took on many famous cases out of principle. After the Revolutionary War, the state of New York enacted harsh measures against Loyalists and British subjects. These included the Confiscation Act (1779), the Citation Act (1782) and the Trespass Act (1783). All involved the taking of property. In Hamilton’s view, these Acts illustrated the inherent difference between democracy and the law. Even though the Acts were widely popular, they flouted fundamental principles of property law. Hamilton carried his views into action and successfully defended — in the face of enormous public hostility — those who had property taken under the three New York state statutes.
The Constitution was designed to further the cause of liberty, not democracy. To do that, the Constitution protected individuals’ rights from the government, as well as from their fellow citizens. To that end, the Constitution laid down clear, unequivocal and enforceable rules to protect individuals’ rights. In consequence, the government’s scope and scale were strictly limited. Economic liberty, which is a precondition for growth and prosperity, was enshrined in the Constitution.
For roughly a century after the Constitution was ratified, private property, contracts and free internal trade within the United States were sacred. The scope and scale of the government remained very constrained. All this was very consistent with what was understood to be liberty. The state of economic affairs in the United States, roughly until World War I, was in the spirit of the Constitution. The economy flourished, with large increases in labor and capital inputs as well as strong productivity growth.
Much of this anti-Constitutional apparatus was scrapped after World War I. However, residues remained and eventually resurfaced. All it took were other national emergencies — the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, and so on. With each, laws were enacted, bureaus created and the budgets enlarged. In many cases, these changes turned out to be permanent. The result is that crises acted as a ratchet, shifting the trend line of government size and scope up to a higher level.
It comes as no surprise that governments spend more money and regulate more actively during crises — wars and economic bailouts are expensive and complicated. But a more active government also attracts opportunists, who perceive that a national emergency can serve as a useful pretext for achieving their own objectives.
The U.S. and other countries seem no more aware of this today than they were in the past. And yet history has provided many examples to illustrate how damaging it is. Take the Great Depression. At that time, the organized farm lobbies, having sought subsidies for decades, took advantage of the crisis to pass a sweeping rescue package, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, whose title declared it to be “an act to relieve the existing national economic emergency.”
Almost 80 years later, the farmers are still sucking money from the rest of society and agricultural policy has been enlarged to satisfy a variety of other interest groups, including conservationists, nutritionists and friends of the Third World. Then, during World War II, when government accounted for nearly half the U.S. GDP, virtually every interest group tried to tap into the vastly enlarged government budget. Even bureaus seemingly remote from the war effort, such as the Department of the Interior (which is in charge of government lands and natural resources), claimed to be performing “essential war work” and to be entitled to bigger budgets and more personnel.
Within the U.S. government, the war on terrorism has given cover to a multitude of parochial opportunists, whose proposals range from bailing out the airlines to nationalizing vaccine production. As a result, former President George W. Bush — a so-called conservative — ushered in a record-setting expansion of government. This trend continues with the interventionist President Barack Obama.
What lessons can we learn? First, “democracy” and “freedom” are not interchangeable words. Second, only the first century of the American experience represents a standard for freedom. Expanding democracy is a slogan which requires great caution. It can easily result in elected tyranny. Freedom is the concept.

For those who complain that this review is not a review of the book, I say this, it is a review of the book.... I got as far as the title of the book. You want me to continue reviewing the book beyond the title? I'd need to write an encyclopedic review.
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on September 19, 2013
I think the perspective taken by Parenti is somewhat controversial which provokes us to think and form our own opinions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2015
I know that this is after all a democracy nation, but after reading this book, you might agree with the term Democracy for the few.
In the beginning I had no clue why my Political Science Professor wanted us to read this book, but afterwards I can see why now. Michael Parenti is quite hard to understand at first, but if you read on you'll see there are certain patterns that will lead on to why Democracy is after all for the few.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2015
This is THE ultimate textbook on American Government and current events from a powerfully progressive leftist. The analysis is so clear, it all makes sense and falls into place how things in American make sense (not that they are good things, but that they do make sense) and how they work to the advantage of the few at the expense of the many.
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