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Politics


Defending Politics


By Flinders Matthew

Citizens around the world have become distrustful of politicians, skeptical about democratic institutions, and disillusioned about the capacity of democratic politics to resolve pressing social concerns. Many feel as if something has gone seriously wrong with democracy. Those sentiments are especially high in the U.S. as the 2012 election draws closer. In 2008, President Barack Obama ran--and won--on a promise of hope and change for a better country. Four years later, that dream for hope and change seems to be waning by the minute. Instead, disillusionment grows with the Obama adminstration's achievements, or depending where you fall on the spectrum, its lack thereof. Defending Politics meets this contemporary pessimism about the political process head on. In doing so, it aims to cultivate a shift from the negativity that appears to dominate public life towards a more buoyant and engaged "politics of optimism." Matthew Flinders makes an unfashionable but incredibly important argument of utmost simplicity: democratic politics delivers far more than most members of the public appear to acknowledge and understand.


If more and more people are disappointed with what modern democratic politics delivers, is it possible that the fault lies with those who demand too much, fail to acknowledge the essence of democratic engagement, and ignore the complexities of governing in the twentieth century? Is it possible that the public in many advanced liberal democracies have become "democratically decadent," that they take what democratic politics delivers for granted? Would politics appear in a better light if we all spent less time emphasizing our individual rights and more time reflecting on our responsibilities to society and future generations? Democratic politics remains "a great and civilizing human activity...something to be valued almost as a pearl beyond price," Bernard Crick stressed in his classic In Defense of Politics fifty years ago. By returning to and updating Crick's arguments, this book provides an honest account of why democratic politics matters and why we need to reject the arguments of those who would turn their backs on "mere politics" in favor of more authoritarian, populist or technocratic forms of governing.


How to Choose a Leader


By Maurizio Viroli

One of the greatest political advisers of all time, Niccolo Machiavelli thought long and hard about how citizens could identify great leaders--ones capable of defending and enhancing the liberty, honor, and prosperity of their countries. Drawing on the full range of the Florentine's writings, acclaimed Machiavelli biographer Maurizio Viroli gathers and interprets Machiavelli's timeless wisdom about choosing leaders. The brief and engaging result is a new kind of Prince--one addressed to citizens rather than rulers and designed to make you a better voter.


Demolishing popular misconceptions that Machiavelli is a cynical realist, the book shows that he believes republics can't survive, let alone thrive, without leaders who are virtuous as well as effective. Among much other valuable advice, Machiavelli says that voters should pick leaders who put the common good above narrower interests and who make fighting corruption a priority, and he explains why the best way to recognize true leaders is to carefully examine their past actions and words. On display throughout are the special insights that Machiavelli gained from long, direct knowledge of real political life, the study of history, and reflection on the political thinkers of antiquity. Recognizing the difference between great and mediocre political leaders is difficult but not at all impossible--with Machiavelli's help. So do your country a favor. Read this book, then vote like Machiavelli would.


Can the Welfare State Survive?


By Andrew Gamble

After the most serious economic crash since the 1930s and the slowest recovery on record, austerity rules. Spending on the welfare state did not cause the crisis, but deep cuts in welfare budgets has become the default policy response. The welfare state is seen as a burden on wealth creation which can no longer be afforded in an ever more competitive global economy.


There are calls for it to be dismantled altogether. In this incisive book, leading political economist Andrew Gamble explains why western societies still need generous inclusive welfare states for all their citizens, and are rich enough to provide them. Welfare states can survive, he argues, but only if there is the political will to reform them and to fund them.


Collective Action


By Hardin Russell

Public choice, an important subdiscipline in the field of political theory, seeks to understand how people and societies make decisions affecting their collective lives. Relying heavily on theoretical models of decision making, public choice postulates that people act in their individual interests in making collective decisions. As it happens, however, reality does not mirror theory, and people often act contrary to what the principal public choice models suggest. In this book, Russell Hardin looks beyond the models to find out why people choose to act together in situations that the models find quite hopeless.


He uses three constructs of modern political economy--public goods, the Prisoner's Dilemma, and game theory--to test public choice theories against real world examples of collective action. These include movements important in American society in the past few decades--civil rights, the Vietnam War, women's rights, and environmental concerns. This classic work on public choice will be of interest to theoreticians and graduate students in the fields of public choice, political economy, or political theory--and to those in other disciplines who are concerned with the problem of collective action in social contexts.


A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy 2 Rev ed Edition


By Robert E Goodin, Pettit Goodin

This new edition of "A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy" has been extended significantly to include 55 chapters across two volumes written by some of today's most distinguished scholars.

New contributors include some of today's most distinguished scholars, among them Thomas Pogge, Charles Beitz, and Michael DoyleProvides in-depth coverage of contemporary philosophical debate in all major related disciplines, such as economics, history, law, political science, international relations and sociologyPresents analysis of key political ideologies, including new chapters on Cosmopolitanism and FundamentalismIncludes detailed discussions of major concepts in political philosophy, including virtue, power, human rights, and just war.


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