- Series: Speaker's Corner
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing (November 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1555917267
- ISBN-13: 978-1555917265
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,664,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Democracy at the Crossroads (Speaker's Corner) Paperback – November 1, 2009
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"This could be a course conducted by your college's favorite prof: a compellingly lively survey of the struggle toward democracy and the rule of law in an historic setting strung from the Trojan Wars through the ones being waged against 21st-century terrorism. Lawyer Craig Barnes delves articulately into misrule by, among others, John I and Charles I of England- and the fed-uppedness of people with power to react." --Pasatiempo
Blending history, politics, and social science, Craig S. Barnes says democracy is not natural in social evolution and if we're not careful, the office of president could easily become synonymous with King. 'Democracy at the Crossroads' is a fascinating read with many original ideas, highly recommended. --Library Bookwatch, February 2010
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And it became clear that I was more familiar with the values of a feudal society through trying to oppose them than I was with the unspoken and usually unclear intentions of our democracy. The author presents an absorbing overview of the struggles to overcome tyranny and the many defeats: Socrates condemned to drink poison for irritating the elite; the Roman Republic undone by Caesar within 30 years; Hitler who was able to vanquish the tottering Weimar Republic in one year; Vladamir Putin who reestablished tyranny five years after the brief sunlight of Yeltsin and Gorbachev; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who in four years reversed much of American political tradition and constitutional law built up over 225 years. We have witnessed unchecked executive power and the hapless, gridlocked Congress and impotent Supreme Court to check executive power. Reverting to tyranny can be quick, much faster than creating a free society.
And the law itself cannot contain tyranny. Time and time again throughout history, tyranny reasserts itself. Our founders hoped that the separation of powers--executive, legislative, judicial--would contain the tyranny likely to emerge if one branch became dominant. But even James Madison felt that words on paper, his famous phrase "parchment barrier," were not enough to deter tyranny.
Through this gloom, Barnes eloquently describes the core values that our founders felt were critical to the survival of our democracy, the soul of the Constitution. And, without which, we totter ever closer to the tyranny of a fallen Republic. It will take the bedrock values of the American people to resolve this recurring clash between ever-present nascent feudalism and civil society.
What are those values, the ones unstated, the intentions implied in our society that we don't hear about but that are the life and breath of our civilization?
Barnes describes five core values, ones that have carried us this far and, hopefully, will carry us into the future:
1. Public virtue--the concern and action for the welfare of all the people.
2. Nonviolence--the preference for negotiation and compromise to resolve conflict
3. Truth telling--even to those who are not members of the inner circle (Wikileaks our current example)
4. Diversity--encouraged for the stability of society
5. Competence--rewarded over class or hierarchy or clan associations
And I would add another: Courage --to confront the despotism of wealth and power.
"The struggle for [power]," Frederick Douglass told us in 1857, "may be both a moral one and a physical [one], but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand." At least, with the clarity of Democracy at the Crossroads we have the moral issues clarified.
There is much to recommend in this well-written book; I hope it's on the book lists of political science and social studies classes. Which road we take at the crossroads will depend to a great deal on understanding the issues presented here.
The human struggle for law derived from the people as opposed to feudalism under kings and presidents then and now is reviewed factually in a manner that recognizes the triumphs of the rule of law and cites its easy, dark and long-lasting back-slides. He leads the American reader to better understand the unique gift we've received, its fragility and the crossroads at which we have arrived. Craig Barnes reminds readers that once again, as in recorded history, many human forces are working to dissolve our democracy back to singular rule and he shows why and how. The American people are challenged to cherish the value of their greatest gift and to recognize and then rekindle the historic peoples' struggle typically needed to keep it.
This is a great book, which is well written. Carig Barnes excellently creates a solid picture of the history of democracy, doing so in one easy-to-read 215 page volume