Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans. The courts are increasingly handmaidens of corporate power. Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media.
We now have a new, comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers. His new book, “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism,” is a devastating critique of the contemporary government of the United States. Wolin’s work is fully accessible. Understanding his argument does not depend on possessing any specialized knowledge.
Sheldon Wolin says that the system that was constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution saw democracy as the enemy. Alexander Hamilton understood the need for a strong relationship between capitalism and a strong central government. This relationship was threatened by populist democracy, which aimed at a government responsive to the people. The fundamental problem is centralized power. Our present condition is without precedent and needs radical change.Back to Remarkable