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Book Details

ISBN: 9780807043271
ISBN-10: 0807043273
Format: Paperback
(215mm x 140mm x 11mm)
Pages: 104
Imprint: Beacon Press
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publish Date: 1-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Slim volume, broad implications. American progressives usually combine a devastating honesty about the failings of public policy with an optimistic outlook based on confidence in human beings. This contrasts starkly with the common tendency to paper over problems and injustices with slogans and vacuous principles volunteered by those who doubt the abilities of common people and welcome their quiescence. The recent popularity of the latter tendency makes Unger (Law/Harvard) and West's (Afro-American Studies/Harvard; Resisting Hope, 1997, etc.) revival of the former a welcome breath of fresh air. Whether or not you agree with them, at least they don't mince words. The co-authors identify the "oppressive contrast between the vitality and greatness of the country and the littleness and deadness of its public life" as the root cause of America's traditional struggles with race and class, as well as emerging problems in the new global economy. Their response is to call for democratizing the market economy and energizing representative democracy by unleashing the creative abilities of Americans. For we've always been tinkerers, people willing to experiment to find a better way. When it comes to institutions, however, visionaries have tried to convince us to "trade in some bad American exceptionalism for some good American experimentalism" - without success. Unger and West argue that this must change. Their concerns include the influence of money on politics. While in the past this influence was "sanctified by the judiciary as if the ability of money to talk . . . were a principle rather than a wrong," it is now time for government to stop upholding this dismal system and start innovating with public financing. In a country where many Democrats aspire to be nothing more than generous Republicans, they maintain, this sort of re-emergent progressivism is needed to introduce a dose of American creativity. A bold political analysis that should inspire public life but, alas, probably will not. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Roberto Mangabeira Unger

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Harvard Law School professor and one of two "godfathers of the loosely organized leftist challenge to orthodox economic reform" ("Institutional Investor"), is author of "Democracy Realized" and other books. Cornel West, the "preeminent African-American intellectual of our generation" (Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), is author of many books, including the best-selling "Race Matters" and, with Sylvia Ann Hewlitt, "The War Against Parents." He is Alphonse Fletcher, Jr., University Professor at Harvard University.

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