Darius's Reviews > Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism

Democracy Matters by Cornel West
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's review
Mar 23, 2010

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Read from February 24 to March 21, 2010

There's two chapters in the middle of this book, "The Deep Democratic Tradition in America" and "The Crisis of Christian Identity in America," that are to me the most significant and interesting opinions in the whole piece. And the book does largely read like an opinion piece; a bit repetitious, full of rhetoric, heavier on interpretations than evidence. He doesn't really need to sell me on the idea that we need to be Socratic questioners of ourselves and our nation, but he certainly says it often enough. These two chapters though-- worth the read. In 'democratic tradition' he calls Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville "The two paradigmatic figures of the deep democratic tradition in America... And the most Emersonian of American democratic intellectuals is James Baldwin, while the most Melvillean of our democratic intellectuals is Toni Morrison." It's a fun idea to consider, especially the notion that "Melville's corpus-- from Typee to Billy Budd-- is an unprecedented and unmatched meditation on the imperialist and racist impediments to democracy in American life."

Then in 'crisis of christian identity' it's cool to see him pinpoint exactly where and how he wants christianity to exist in american society. He credits judaism with the invention of prophetic justice-- that god loves justice above all else and thus should play a central role in our democracy. He doesn't really touch on how the specific rights and wrongs the jewish and christian traditions also created will affect the enactment of justice.

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