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Demanding democracy : American radicals in search of a new politics /
Marc Stears.
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010.
description
x, 246 p.
ISBN
0691133409 (hardcover : alk. paper), 9780691133409 (hardcover : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2010.
isbn
0691133409 (hardcover : alk. paper)
9780691133409 (hardcover : alk. paper)
contents note
1900-1945 -- Making the nation a neighborhood -- After the breach -- Radicalism americanized -- 1945-1972 -- Doubt and the american creed -- The explosive enclave -- "We are beginning to move again".
catalogue key
7042186
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"In quest of America's radical democratic tradition? Here it is: in the dreams of the early Progressives and in the 1960s lunch counter protests in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the early CIO commitment to justice by any means necessary and in the later Vietnam-era antiwar movement. Writing with a realist's appreciation of the complexities of politics, but with an idealist's care for the lives and fortunes of his subjects, Marc Stears tells the story of those who risked everything to take their place at the democratic table. Battles for a new citizenship, workplace democracy, participatory practices, and racial equality come alive, as do the voices of the intellectuals who helped shape them: Croly, Lippmann, Niebuhr, Dewey, Ellison, King, Carmichael, Walzer, and Arendt. But this is not just a work of history. This book finds in the ups and downs of American radicalism the resources with which to contest contemporary political theory's often settled opinion that utopianism leads to violence and that violence has no place in a properly liberal or deliberative politics. Demanding Democracy demands to be read by anyone committed to the reinvigoration of political theory and practice."--Bonnie Honig, Northwestern University "This is an important book at the intersection of political history and political theory, written at a time when new perspectives in American self-understanding are very much needed, especially on the political left."--Eldon J. Eisenach, professor emeritus, University of Tulsa "Marc Stears is an excellent scholar, and his richly textured and expansive book is a good marriage of political theory and history. What is most valuable is his success in writing the history of American radicalism without getting bogged down in the tired old question of why there is no socialism in America."--Mark Hulliung, Brandeis University
Flap Copy
"In quest of America's radical democratic tradition? Here it is: in the dreams of the early Progressives and in the 1960s lunch counter protests in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the early CIO commitment to justice by any means necessary and in the later Vietnam-era antiwar movement. Writing with a realist's appreciation of the complexities of politics, but with an idealist's care for the lives and fortunes of his subjects, Marc Stears tells the story of those who risked everything to take their place at the democratic table. Battles for a new citizenship, workplace democracy, participatory practices, and racial equality come alive, as do the voices of the intellectuals who helped shape them: Croly, Lippmann, Niebuhr, Dewey, Ellison, King, Carmichael, Walzer, and Arendt. But this is not just a work of history. This book finds in the ups and downs of American radicalism the resources with which to contest contemporary political theory's often settled opinion that utopianism leads to violence and that violence has no place in a properly liberal or deliberative politics. Demanding Democracy demands to be read by anyone committed to the reinvigoration of political theory and practice."--Bonnie Honig, Northwestern University"This is an important book at the intersection of political history and political theory, written at a time when new perspectives in American self-understanding are very much needed, especially on the political left."--Eldon J. Eisenach, professor emeritus, University of Tulsa"Marc Stears is an excellent scholar, and his richly textured and expansive book is a good marriage of political theory and history. What is most valuable is his success in writing the history of American radicalism without getting bogged down in the tired old question of why there is no socialism in America."--Mark Hulliung, Brandeis University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2010-08-01:
This is an excellent, evocative book examining often-ignored possibilities for American democracy. It adds richness and depth to analysis of American political thought and to continuing debate about the nature, content, and purpose of democracy. Radical democracy confronts the problem of constructing a more egalitarian and participatory future out of existing non-ideal relations. Although Stears (Univ. of Oxford) does not fully specify his content for "radical" and includes many liberals, values and goals that unite Progressivism, the 1930s, the immediate post-WW II period, the civil rights movement, and 1960s and early 1970s demands for realizing and expanding democracy include greater equality, reduced power disparities, expanded popular participation in and control over public decisions, openness, voice for the excluded, improved life chances, reforming nonresponsive institutions, and actualizing democratic values. A major difference between these and contemporary arguments for deliberative democracy and what Stears calls democratic realism, a form of skeptical acceptance of democratic values and practice, was a willingness to employ direct action when public and private power holders prevented reasoned debate and compromise. Excluded groups, like the women's movement, could enrich his argument. His discussion of John Dewey is the best short analysis available. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduate students, graduate students, and research faculty. C. P. Waligorski emeritus, University of Arkansas
Reviews
Review Quotes
Graduate students and scholars interested in the connections between democratic thought, activism and new social movements in the U.S. will find this book informative, if professionally unsettling.
"Graduate students and scholars interested in the connections between democratic thought, activism and new social movements in the U.S. will find this book informative, if professionally unsettling."-- Jeffrey D. Hilmer, Political Studies Review
Graduate students and scholars interested in the connections between democratic thought, activism and new social movements in the U.S. will find this book informative, if professionally unsettling. -- Jeffrey D. Hilmer, Political Studies Review
One of Choice s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010
[T]he book provides a fine primer on democratic theory in twentieth century America. . . . [It] also offers a bold and terse read, important not just for historians but also for political activists and thinkers.
"[T]he book provides a fine primer on democratic theory in twentieth century America. . . . [It] also offers a bold and terse read, important not just for historians but also for political activists and thinkers."-- Kevin Mattson, Journal of American History
[T]he book provides a fine primer on democratic theory in twentieth century America. . . . [It] also offers a bold and terse read, important not just for historians but also for political activists and thinkers. -- Kevin Mattson, Journal of American History
The bulk of Demanding Democracy is an interpretation of 60 years of American radical democratic thought and activism through the lens of these concerns. And it proves a most fruitful way of thinking about this history, particularly because Stears is acutely alert to the 'fiendishly difficult' task that his subjects set themselves.
"The bulk of Demanding Democracy is an interpretation of 60 years of American radical democratic thought and activism through the lens of these concerns. And it proves a most fruitful way of thinking about this history, particularly because Stears is acutely alert to the 'fiendishly difficult' task that his subjects set themselves."-- Robert Westbrook, Perspectives on Politics
This is an excellent, evocative book examining often-ignored possibilities for American democracy. It adds richness and depth to analysis of American political thought and to continuing debate about the nature, content, and purpose of democracy.
"This is an excellent, evocative book examining often-ignored possibilities for American democracy. It adds richness and depth to analysis of American political thought and to continuing debate about the nature, content, and purpose of democracy."-- Choice
This is an excellent, evocative book examining often-ignored possibilities for American democracy. It adds richness and depth to analysis of American political thought and to continuing debate about the nature, content, and purpose of democracy. -- Choice
Marc Stears is an excellent scholar, and his richly textured and expansive book is a good marriage of political theory and history. What is most valuable is his success in writing the history of American radicalism without getting bogged down in the tired old question of why there is no socialism in America.
This is an important book at the intersection of political history and political theory, written at a time when new perspectives in American self-understanding are very much needed, especially on the political left.
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, August 2010
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
This title looks at how citizens should behave as they struggle to create a more democratic society. It also explores whether they should take to the streets or hold back from disruptive politics and seek to persuade their patient deliberation.
Main Description
This is a major work of history and political theory that traces radical democratic thought in America across the twentieth century, seeking to recover ideas that could reenergize democratic activism today. The question of how citizens should behave as they struggle to create a more democratic society has haunted the United States throughout its history. Should citizens restrict themselves to patient persuasion or take to the streets and seek to impose change? Marc Stears argues that anyone who continues to wrestle with these questions could learn from the radical democratic tradition that was forged in the twentieth century by political activists, including progressives, trade unionists, civil rights campaigners, and members of the student New Left. These activists and their movements insisted that American campaigners for democratic change should be free to strike out in whatever ways they thought necessary, so long as their actions enhanced the political virtues of citizens and contributed to the eventual triumph of the democratic cause. Reevaluating the moral and strategic arguments, and the triumphs and excesses, of this radical democratic tradition, Stears contends that it still offers a compelling account of citizen behavior--one that is fairer, more inclusive, and more truly democratic than those advanced by political theorists today.
Main Description
This is a major work of history and political theory that traces radical democratic thought in America across the twentieth century, seeking to recover ideas that could reenergize democratic activism today. The question of how citizens should behave as they struggle to create a more democratic society has haunted the United States throughout its history. Should citizens restrict themselves to patient persuasion or take to the streets and seek to impose change? Marc Stears argues that anyone who continues to wrestle with these questions could learn from the radical democratic tradition that was forged in the twentieth century by political activists, including progressives, trade unionists, civil rights campaigners, and members of the student New Left.These activists and their movements insisted that American campaigners for democratic change should be free to strike out in whatever ways they thought necessary, so long as their actions enhanced the political virtues of citizens and contributed to the eventual triumph of the democratic cause. Reevaluating the moral and strategic arguments, and the triumphs and excesses, of this radical democratic tradition, Stears contends that it still offers a compelling account of citizen behavior--one that is fairer, more inclusive, and more truly democratic than those advanced by political theorists today.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1900-1945
Making the Nation a Neighborhoodp. 21
After the Breachp. 56
Radicalism Americanizedp. 85
1945-1972
Doubt and the American Creedp. 119
The Explosive Enclavep. 145
"We Are Beginning to Move Again"p. 174
Conclusion: Renewing the American Radical Traditionp. 206
Bibliographyp. 223
Indexp. 243
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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