Democracy On Trial by Jean Bethke Elshtain

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Synopsis

Even as Russia and the other former Soviet republics struggle to redefine themselves in democratic terms, our own democracy if faltering, not flourishing. We confront one another as aggrieved groups rather than as free citizens. Cynicism, boredom, apathy, despair, violence—these have become coin of the civic realm. They are dark signs of the times and a warning that democracy may not be up to the task of satisfying the yearnings it unleashes—yearnings for freedom, fairness, and equality.In this timely, thought-provoking book, one of America’s leading political philosophers and public intellectuals questions whether democracy will prove sufficiently robust and resilient to survive the century. Beginning with a catalogue of our discontents, Jean Bethke Elshtain asks what has gone wrong and why. She draws on examples from America and other parts of the world as she explores the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender identity—controversial, and essential, political issues of our day. Insisting that there is much to cherish in our democratic traditions, she concludes that democracy involves a permanent clash between conservatism and progressive change.Elshtain distinguishes her own position from those of both the Left and the Right, demonstrating why she has been called one of our most interesting and independent civic thinkers. Responding to critics of democracy, ancient and modern, Elshtain urges us to have the courage of our most authentic democratic convictions. We need, she insists, both hope and a sense of reality.Writing her book for citizens, not experts, Elshtain aims to open up a dialogue and to move us beyond sterile sectarian disputes. Democracy on Trial will generate wide debate and controversy.
 

About Jean Bethke Elshtain

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Jean Bethke Elshtain is the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Ethics at the University of Chicago.
 
Published December 22, 1994 by Basic Books. 176 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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She persuasively establishes Addams’s importance as a social theorist, though that aspect of her work has sustained the most consistent attacks, by deploying extensive passages from her writings and speeches to illustrate her freethinking approach and her frequent eloquence.

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she is alarmed by the signs of anomie spreading in America: ``the growth of corrosive forms of isolation, boredom, and despair.'' Where Alexis de Tocqueville found an antebellum America strengthened by a network of private associations, from churches to local groups, Elshtain dreads a contemporar...

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``We are in danger of losing democractic civil society,'' warns Elshtain (Women and War), who teaches ethics at the University of Chicago, and the danger comes not from any foreign power but from ourselves.

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