Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
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Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  267 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Democracy is struggling in America--by now this statement is almost cliche. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In "Democracy Incorporated," Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation c...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published April 27th 2008 by Princeton University Press (first published April 7th 2008)
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notgettingenough
Mar 07, 2014 notgettingenough is currently reading it
Shelves: haven-t-read-but

7 March 2014. People are campaigning against Amazon for the many ruinous ways they affect our community. http://www.thebookseller.com/news/liv...

Updated 18 August 2013 I don't know why this is hard to understand, but when you are buying from Amazon, you are making a statement that you think people should exist like this:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672939/t...

instead of like this:

http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/He...

Not only are you happy to treat people like that, but you are happy with the...more
John David
Sheldon Wolin begins his book by looking at the effects that September 11, 2001 had on the public, and especially how those effects were refracted though the media. He suggests that the reaction was practically singular and unanimous: popular opinion was consolidated through media apparatus, dissident voices were marginalized or silenced, and fear of a distant, unknown enemy (the ubiquitous “Islamic terrorist”) was encouraged. After 9/11, the miasma of terror created the perfect foil for the con...more
Tobias
I really wanted to like this book, but in all honesty it was a slog to the very end. It was incredibly repetitive, laden with footnotes to newspaper articles and glib references — it would have been much better as a long magazine article (which it may well have been originally). I also think Wolin was too focused on coining phrases than on providing coherent analysis. That said, I agree with his fundamental thesis: American democracy is increasingly "managed democracy." Citizens are encouraged t...more
Gordon Hilgers
Of course, there are plenty of books on the best seller lists that track and analyze American politics from the standpoint of current events, but far fewer that really dig deep into how the paradigms surrounding democracy in America are changing us and how we relate to government itself. Sheldon S. Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism" is not only an important book but something those who definitely feel the tremblings and perceive distor...more
Jeff Brailey
Despite the fact the theory set forth by the author describes what I have believed for some time has happened to my country, the journey he takes the reader on to defend his premise is very disconcerting indeed. From the beginning of the book, he compares The Triumph of Will, a pro-Nazi propaganda film of the 1930s with the May 1, 2003 performance by President Bush on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln beneath the backdrop of a huge banner reading "Mission Accomplished."

The author is careful n...more
Green
This review is from: Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper) (Kindle Edition)
I've written a short review of Robert Harris' novel The Fear Index Professor Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated" is, in my view, the Non-Fiction version of "Fear Index". Admittedly, Wolin is drier and less entertaining than Harris. So patience and a few more glasses of wine may be necessary to make one's way through.

Professor Wolin's theory of Inverted Totalitari...more
Asiasuperloop
This review is from: Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper) (Kindle Edition)
I've written a short review of Robert Harris' novel The Fear Index Professor Wolin's "Democracy Incorporated" is, in my view, the Non-Fiction version of "Fear Index". Admittedly, Wolin is drier and less entertaining than Harris. So patience and a few more glasses of wine may be necessary to make one's way through.

Professor Wolin's theory of Inverted Totalitari...more
C. Scott
An idea as provocative as this should never be so dull... This reader thinks it was a big mistake for the author to ever apologize for his theories. It felt like a significant portion of the early going was preparing the reader for upcoming comparisons to totalitarianism. Newsflash, if someone has picked up a book that suggests that the American system has devolved into some sort of totalitarian corporate state - they are probably willing to roll with such parallels.

Unfortunately, after reading...more
Charles
This is one of those books where I wish Goodreads let us use half-stars, because I'd give it 3 1/2. I did like the book and it was filled with tons of information, stuff I never knew before. His footnotes were worthy of their own book. Having said that, it was a bit repetitive. I felt like the author was repeating the same point about inverted totalitarianism in different words. Still, it's an informative book and one that Americans would benefit by reading.
Steve
Excellent, extremely thorough coverage of our problem here, with lucid contrast to 'classical' totalitarianism as Wolin defines it. A must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in a robust analysis of the American system of government and how it really works. Top 12.
Earl Killian
Democracy Inc is a book-length Opinion piece, such as you would find on the OpEd pages. Since I find the OpEd pages to be without merit, I didn't like this book, even though I agreed with most of his opinions and even found them eloquently made in many cases. What is the purpose of reading something this length if it has so little data (like an OpEd)?
Ecoute Sauvage
What worries me a bit is that this book continues an old story but the author has no suggestions how to deal with the problem.

Spending more on education is absurd - this is the only country where high school graduates can't read, write, or do arithmetic AND they cost the local school district an average of $20,000/year. In another book I came across an explanation for why the people most affected don't start a revolution: they have been tranquillized into obesity and can't be weaned from their "...more
Neil Moore
A great summarization of the fundamental flaws of American Democracy. The author does an excellent job of illustrating that our current political moment is not simply the work of evil men in the present time, but is rather more the logical end of a system that was intended from the beginning to manage democratic action -- to keep it in check, combined with an unchecked glorification of corporate capitalism in all its forms. A truly insightful and troubling analysis.
BakuDreamer
I could have written this ( except for the off-kilter chapter nine ) < which should be removed or conpletely reconstructed > A lot of typographical / punctuationaly errors ( using voice dication software ? ) Overall however, ' inverted totalitarianism ' is what I was calling ' Fascism lite ' , ' Nerf Fascism ', or ' I Can't Beleive It's Not Fascism ! '.
James
This is my summary of the book.

Ancient writers said that a democratic polis is prone to corruption and tyranny.

Modern democracy (Germany) proved this with all the force of an industrial economy in WWII.

Post-modern democracy does some very interesting things when it turns into a tyranny.

There are, of course, other ways to read it.
Russell Ricciardi
A compelling framework for understanding how our particular modern American form of "democracy" is really no democracy at all. Not an easy read, but well worth it, for those seriously interested in this contemporary problem. I read it sometime in 2012. The best single contemporary book of political criticism that I have read.
Kent Douglas
This book is a pathological deconstruction of our current system of government and what it may be aiming to become eventually, consciously or not, read this book and you will better understand how totality CAN evolve from a democracy, and the shaky ground it can put us on as a society.
Mike
Inverted Totalitarianism is the author’s term for the process by which corporate power perpetuates political illiteracy and disengagement in order to gut the mechanisms of democracy while preserving the façade of democracy, paving the way for all sorts of imperial shenanigans.
Miquixote
He should have taken it one step further and admit we already live in a totalitarian society. But excellently researched and who can blame him for balking at the admittance, because he would probably be ridiculed in the academic ranks.
Andrew Stefan
One of the core theses:
Classical totalitarianism=Social and economic life is subordinated to the state
Inverted totalitarianism=Social and political life is subordinated to the market. Sound familiar?
David
This is definitely one of the most insightful and important books I have ever come across. I highly recommend it to anyone unsatisfied with the status quo in America.
Rhondda
I borrowed this book from the library and it is one that I am going to buy. His analysis of the current state of democracy is quite disturbing as well as enlightening.
James
Mar 25, 2012 James marked it as to-read
Well, put one way, there is your take on the world before you read Wolin, and your life after you have read Wolin. This is an incredible book.
Craig
Necessary reading for intelligent political discourse today. Complex subject analyzed in simple, accessible manner.
Lawrence
His central thesis that the US is an "inverted totalitarian" state just didn't hold together.
Jeff Sikes
Best diagnosis as to what's wrong with U.S. politics to come along in years!
Timothy McCluskey
Great book - not as good a Birthright but important
Ebadur
Jan 27, 2010 Ebadur marked it as to-read
Chris Hedges draws from in his latest article on truthdig
Ryan Watson
lucid and brilliant.
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“by the fact of his own election, that audacity does not appear to challenge the system of power which has brought the nation an endless war, bankruptcy, recession, and high unemployment. Change aplenty and all feeding the drift toward the system described in the pages that follow. July 2009 Preface As a preliminary I want to emphasize certain aspects of the approach taken in this volume in order to avoid possible misunderstandings. Although the concept of totalitarianism is central to what follows, my thesis is not that the current American political system is an inspired replica of Nazi Germany’s or George W. Bush of Hitler.1 References to Hitler’s Germany are introduced to remind the reader of the benchmarks in a system of power that was invasive abroad, justified preemptive war as a matter of official doctrine, and repressed all opposition at home—a system that was cruel and racist in principle and practice, deeply ideological, and openly bent on world domination. Those benchmarks are introduced to illuminate tendencies” 0 likes
“Antidemocracy, executive predominance, and elite rule are basic elements of inverted totalitarianism. Antidemocracy does not take the form of overt attacks upon the idea of government by the people. Instead, politically it means encouraging what I have earlier dubbed

“civic demobilization,” conditioning an electorate to being aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy. The intense pace of work and the extended working day, combined with job insecurity, is a formula for political demobilization, for privatizing the citizenry. It works indirectly. Citizens are encouraged to distrust their government and politicians; to concentrate upon their own interests; to begrudge their taxes; and to exchange active involvement for symbolic gratifications of patriotism, collective self-righteousness, and military prowess. Above all, depoliticization is promoted through society’s being enveloped in an atmosphere of collective fear and of individual powerlessness: fear of terrorists, loss of jobs, the uncertainties of pension plans, soaring health costs, and rising educational expenses.”
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