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Radical Democracy Paperback – July 2, 1997
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"Lummis insists that the hope of global democracy rests on faith in our fellow human beings. The move to embrace this faith conquers cynicism and gives one hope and the ability to act."―Thomas Harrison, The Nation
"The strongest point of Radical Democracy is Lummis' finely balanced attitude of detachment and commitment that nurtures a generosity of spirit expressed in a direct and attractive prose style."―Michael A. Weinstein, Society
"This is a book that deserves to be read by economists, both faculty and students, especially those adhering to a radical political position."―Michael Keaney, Glasgow Caledonia University. Review of Radical Political Economics, Vol. 32, 2000
From the Back Cover
C. Douglas Lummis reminds us that democracy literally means a political state in which the people (demos) have the power (kratia). The people referred to are not people of a certain class or gender or color. They are, in fact, the poorest and largest body of citizens. Democracy is and always has been the most radical proposal, and constitutes a critique of every sort of centralized power. Lummis distinguishes true democracy from the inequitable incarnations referred to in contemporary liberal usage. He weaves commentary on classic texts with personal anecdotes and reflections on current events. Writing from Japan and drawing on his own experience in the Philippines at the height of People's Power, Lummis brings a cross-cultural perspective to issues such as economic development and popular mobilization. He warns against the fallacy of associating free markets or the current world economic order with democracy and argues for transborder democratic action. Rejecting the ways in which technology imposes its own needs, Lummis asks what work would look like in a truly democratic society. He argues us to remember that democracy should mean a fundamental stance toward the world and toward one's fellow human beings. So understood, it offers an effective cure for what he terms "the social disease called political cynicism".
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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. "How and when a people prospers depends on what they hope, and prosperity becomes a strictly economic term only when we abandon all hopes but the economic one." Too many polities get driven by economies, rather than by people and their actual needs, as opposed to their manufactured ones. His discussion of power in the hands of the peoples is international in scope, and American in its immediacy to current problems, crossing ideological lines. No doubt he can see democracy all the better for living and working in a foreign country, where one's most basic assumptions get challenged as a matter of course.
I teach in a high school, and this is one of the few books I wish I could get all my students -- and colleagues -- to read. As Lummis says near his conclusion, "Democracy is essential politics: the art of the possible."