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Radical Democracy: Liberalizing Finance in Interventionist States Paperback – July 2, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1st New edition edition (July 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801484510
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801484513
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By DE on May 31, 2001
Lummis, who has taught in Japan for years, has unfortunately not been much heard from in the U.S. and the West generally until the publication of Radical Democracy. I'm no fan of political science normally -- too often the author has a theory to push or a political stance to defend at some cost, usually including common sense -- but I re-read Lummis's book at least once a year to unstuff my head of Newspeak and doubletalk and cynicism. He cuts through sloppy and wishful thinking with clear and approachable prose, and I'm grateful to be able to recommend this book to anyone who values honest thinking about what power in the hands of the people means and has meant historically. Lummis does not trot out new solutions for real problems so much as return us to the roots -- hence his title. "How to democratize any particular antidemocratic organization -- a kingdom in south Asia, a communist country in eastern Europe, a banana plantation in the Third World, a multinational corporation in a capitalist country -- is a question that can be answered in concrete form only through the process of democratic struggle with each such organization. In this sense, radical democracy is different from utopianism. It does not seek to impose a preconceived model; such impositions always turn out to be antidemocratic, however `democratic' the model itself may be. It means a struggle carried out on democratic principles, a process from which new forms of organization emerge. Such a struggle can be begun in any organization, at any economic or technological level."

Lummis's critique of economic development as a process often carried on in highly undemocratic and ultimately destructive ways is perhaps the heart of his book. Yet he is no reactionary or Luddite.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2001
First things first, Lummis is not going to offer any prescriptions or solutions, and he is using "radical" meaning "straight from the source." Thus, "Radical democracy, taken in this sense...[is] the vital source of energy at the center of all living politics." He spends the first 30 pages discussing this word "radical" and what it does and doesn't mean, and how many concepts and institutions commonly regarded as "democratic," really aren't. The next 30 pages are spent on "antidemocractic development," a powerful chapter exposing the power-skewing effects inherent in development economics. Next is 30 pages on "antidemocratic machines," which seeks to explain how technology has ordered human work in ways that are inherently undemocratic. Then follows 30 less invigorating pages in which Lummis examines what he calls "democracy's flawed tradition," namely Athens in the Age of Pericles, and the Roman Republic. The aim of this chapter is to explore the West's two main exemplars of democracy and reconsider them in light of radical democracy. Basically, all of this is aimed at dispelling contemporary complacent notions (myths) about what democracy really is. Lummis is vehement in telling the reader that democracy is not the presence of this procedure, or that institutions, or any combination thereof, "Democracy is essential politics, the art of the possible." It ebbs and flows, but it cannot be contained and sustained, it must be constantly struggled for. This is a powerful notion, one that clearly is at odds with mainstream political philosophy, but one that deserves careful consideration.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. Montandon on February 13, 2003
In Western culture's long conversations concerning who should hold power in society and why, C. Douglas Lummis's Radical Democracy is a recent and righteous voice. Lummis's account is grounded in historical events in which he played a direct role (Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the 1960's) or which he surveyed soon afterwards (the democratic overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in the 1980's). Furthermore, since Lummis has spent most of his professional life as an expatriate in the Philippines or as a faculty member at Tsuda College, Tokyo, his perspective is informed by the concerns of the so-called Third World. Democracy and "development" are thesis and antithesis in this work, which Lummis describes as the "search for a radical political perspective that does not depend on Marxism."
Radical democracy, in Lummis's view, is radical because 1) it is practiced nowhere in the world today and therefore is "subversive in every system and in every country"; 2) it is preferable to all other forms of political culture if public freedom is desirable. The book is not a theory of democracy, nor is it a policy text. It is a sermon preached to believers to inspire them to act righteously and avoid the paths of perdition. It exhorts the reader to have faith in a political promised land, yet in keeping with the metaphor of "grace" as coming serendipitously and unbidden, the book offers no formulation of how this best of all possible political worlds is to come into existence except by fortuitous accident.
Can a society prepare for grace?
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