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Democracy for the Few

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This is no ordinary textbook on American Government. DEMOCRACY FOR THE FEW is a provocative interpretation of American Government that you have likely not been exposed to in elementary school, high school, or other college courses, and certainly not in the mass media. This textbook shows how democracy is repeatedly violated by corporate oligopolies, but how popular forces ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Wadsworth Publishing Company (first published 1976)
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4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  368 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you've become increasingly disillusioned with the U.S. policitcal and economic landscape, then you'll be enraptured by this book. It is basically a litany of abuses by the wealthy, "owning" class against... well... the rest of us. If you want to reinforce the gut feeling you have that everything wrong with society is because "the man's puttin' us down" - then this book will give you the "evidence" you need to make that argument. I found it to be a good-paced read. Very well annotated with foo ...more
Aug 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, politics
Read this paragraph and then think about it for a minute before reading on (from Chapter 16):

In the wake of the 9/11 attack, Bush Jr. issued a host of executive orders supposedly to enhance national security, one of which rescinded certain labor protections required of federal contractors. When a federal court revoked Bush’s decision, the president ignored the court decision, justifying his action as a response to “national emergency.” Executive Order 11000 allows the government to mobilize civi
Aug 22, 2018 added it
Shelves: society-politics
I decided not to finish reading this book. While most of the author's statements may be true, he refers to the CIA being involved in the JFK assassination, says there are "questions about" 9/11, and other occasional points which made me uncertain which statements I could rely on. The book has lots of footnotes - if you're inclined to try to use the footnotes to help you decide which "facts" are well founded, you might find useful data here.

Even if one accepts the above "conspiracy theories," I w
Narmin Isparzade
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Depicting the portrait of the corporate US versus citizens, the book is full of examples of when vested interests of big oligopolists dominated over the Congress and public laws. Election system is established in a way through which only wealthy candidates can penetrate, thus ruling out the representation of the interests and needs of the impoverished in the government. For the protection of the overseas business interests, US backed authoritarian states and dictators from time to time. Wars aga ...more
Tom Sulcer
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a stinging critique of America from a left-leaning analyst which includes a surprising number of smart non-partisan recommendations. Parenti is also a significant non-partisan reformer, although he wanders into traditionally socialist territory when he examines themes like wealth inequality. After decades of Republican rule, he notes that the top 10% of households own 98% of state and local tax-exempt bonds, and when wealth is distorted to this extent, it's difficult for democracy to fun ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend everyone to read this a big eye opener!
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In the beginning of my education I had rated this lower in review primarily due to my lack of knowledge of the social and political implications on the expansion of Marxism's economic theories. However my opinion shifted towards the true ramifications of the hegemonic system that we are sadly bound by. Please keep an open mind while reading. I say this because the tendency to fall into that rhetorical trap of "not enough hard work" can be imbedded within the subconscious through past influence.
Eric Gulliver
May 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, economics
Democracy For The Few is a marxist analysis of the American 'political' system. In textbook format, Michael Parenti traces the origins of the American State as always based on and rule dependent on the accumulation of Capital. In this excellent and sobering book, Parenti recounts American history and politics not as harbingers of justice and democracy, but rather as mechanisms to perpetuate class conflict. As a result of this mechanism, the ruling plutocracy may keep the wealth and enjoy democra ...more
Andrew Pratley
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book at University. That was back in 1978. It was a set text for a course I did on American government. Our lecturer was American whose views & very much on the far left. I liked him & really enjoyed the book which put a quite different slant on American Government & Democracy. It exposed the weaknesses & problems inherent in a system that favours the wealthy & well connected much more than it does the poor & even average Americans. It didn't turn me into a le ...more
T.R. Locke
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is so powerful I can only read a few pages a time because it makes me so mad. Written in 1977, it feels like it was written in 2011 about everything we've just gone through. You know it is truth when it lasts this long. Everything from the way capitalism works to favor the rich to the way the Constitution was constructed to protect wealth and stave off the influence of the masses on public policy, to the way the justice system works to perpetuate the control of the powerful over Americ ...more
C. Scott
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrific and depressing at the same time. I had the same experience reading this that I had reading People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn... the feeling that "that is how I always suspected things worked, and this is confirmation." My only critique is that, like People's History, the facts become overwhelming after a while and it's almost like reading a really long list of everything that's wrong with our system. However, I'd still highly recommend this work to any iconoclast.
of course the title is sarcastically pessimist, it's talking about USA - how do you know the president elected is the one the majority wants - and, how do anyone know she's the best for the country even though for sure the majority wants her? the latter is for Indonesians who smugly said yes to the first because we don't have to deal with these electoral colleges.
Aug 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this is a textbook. Cherry-picked statistics, half truths, and loaded language make it close to impossible to take Parenti seriously, which is a shame because he has some good ideas. Wikipedia is used as a source numerous times; this is not a work of academia, and certainly not worth the $90 price tag.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting read, some parts were gravely exaggerated or some connections were made that weren't entirely accurate. But the general gist of the book provided an efficient critical analysis of the American government.
Feb 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people lookim
If you don't think that the democratic system in the US is working the way it ought to, but aren't sure exactly why, this book is a great starting point. It is short enough and written in a non-academic style, ez to digest.

Unfortunately some chapters can be a bit repetitive.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm slowly reading through this book and knowing it was written in the 70's , much of what I've read so far still rings true today. The author of this book has got it spot on with his research of history and on the delusion known as democracy in America.
Francis Linardo
Jan 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If you're a diehard republican that believes George W. Bush can do no wrong, don't bother with this. However if you are able to read and discuss topics that oppose your interests without significant blood pressure medication this is a book you want to read.
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent introductory critique and perhaps one of Michael Parenti's finest works, dispelling the myth that democracy in America works for all. It has some disturbing examples and statistics that demonstrate clearly how social class in America works, underlining the importance of power.
Stephanie Pavlos
Mar 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
This rating is based on my awful experience trying to choke this book down for intro poli sci in my first semester of college. However, much has changed in 10 years, so if I ever dare to try it again, it may very well deserve a higher rating.
Jun 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book covers practically every relevant political issue in the US. It is a great intro to politics book.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Oh, really?
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Anybody who wants to understand what America really is needs to read this book.
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!!!!
EVERYONE should read this book. it was insightful and easy to read. this guy writes soooo much better than noam chomsky.
Jul 31, 2009 added it
This book started me looking at the Progressive Movement way back in college.
Matthew Matheson
Jan 28, 2008 marked it as to-read
Read all Michael Parenti books.
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Democrats Rock
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
mostly regarding the domestic situation in the US (some brief comments on US foreign policy & empire). intended as a textbook for undergraduates.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyway
A very insightful look into the Government. I thought it was a great read and funny at the same time!!!
Sep 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly interesting, if you can stand the usual statistics that over such academic sociological books are drenched in. Recommended.
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Jan 26, 2008 marked it as to-read
rec billy
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American political scientist, historian and culture critic.

Parenti is most known for his criticism of capitalism and American foreign policy.

He holds a doctorate from Yale University.