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The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy: Political Thought since September 11

ISBN-13: 978-0691116648
ISBN-10: 0691116644
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Editorial Reviews


"Philosophers and policy experts often look for answers by drawing strong conceptual oppositions. The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy, however, shows the shared dilemmas of writers who may themselves think they have nothing in common. This book-length essay tries to make sense of these philosophical and political contradictions by seeing them as necessary tensions in our attempts to reconcile competing values. For Brenkman, the contradictions of our political discourse reveal aspirations for freedom and democracy, for liberty and community. When we strive for freedom, we must learn to live with contradictions...Brenkman is that rare academic who can write well about both contemporary political practice and theory. His description of how the Bush administration was seized by power is insightful, and his critique of contemporary theory star Giorgio Agamben is concise and compelling."--Michael Roth, San Francisco Chronicle

From the Inside Flap

"Brenkman's book is a fascinating read. His sophisticated analysis--situated in a deep understanding of political philosophy--of what democracy and freedom mean for the United States and the West against the backdrop of the 'global war on terror' and the invasion of Iraq provides compelling insight into both domestic and foreign policy. Brenkman's compelling work will surely raise the level of debate about these issues in the United States and Europe."--Steven A. Cook, Council on Foreign Relations

"In this fine book, John Brenkman tells us the story of the nefarious marriage of fear and hubris in post-September 11 U.S. international and domestic politics. In a lucid and powerful language, Brenkman makes an original contribution to political theory. He reminds us of the fragility of democracy, of how easily political creativity can turn against itself and become an agent of destruction, rather than a foundation and consolidation of civil life."--Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University

"This brilliant essay on post-9/11 political thought tackles democracy's inherent contradictions: civic and liberal freedom, U.S. domestic and foreign policy, human rights and civil rights, and cosmopolitanism and liberal nationalism. Brenkman puts into play Kant and Hobbes's divergent political visions of sovereignty and human nature, Arendt and Berlin's reflections on positive and negative freedom, and Habermas and Schmitt's thoughts on law and human rights. In doing so, he opens up new and surprising spaces of reflection on the challenges confronting democracy in the United States, the European Union, and the Islamic world today. His concluding chapter on the ordeal of universalism is, moreover, the most compelling treatment of the subject I have read in a long time."--Andreas Huyssen, Columbia University

"John Brenkman's The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy is a powerful intervention into the most important political questions of our time. He deliberates over the political thought that has emerged from within the fog of war, and he produces a series of clarifying 'untimely meditations' that probe the drama of political thought in the face of the war on terror, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and the occupation of Iraq."--Donald Pease, Dartmouth College

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Cultural Contradictions of Democracy: Political Thought since September 11
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