Democracy Incorporated, by Sheldon Wolin

First publication: 04/27/2008

“Democracy is struggling in America — by now this statement is almost cliché. But what if the country is no longer a democracy at all? In Democracy Incorporated, Sheldon Wolin considers the unthinkable: has America unwittingly morphed into a new and strange kind of political hybrid, one where economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled? Can the nation check its descent into what the author terms “inverted totalitarianism”?

Wolin portrays a country where citizens are politically uninterested and submissive — and where elites are eager to keep them that way. At best the nation has become a “managed democracy” where the public is shepherded, not sovereign. At worst it is a place where corporate power no longer answers to state controls. Wolin makes clear that today’s America is in no way morally or politically comparable to totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, yet he warns that unchecked economic power risks verging on total power and has its own unnerving pathologies. Wolin examines the myths and mythmaking that justify today’s politics, the quest for an ever-expanding economy, and the perverse attractions of an endless war on terror. He argues passionately that democracy’s best hope lies in citizens themselves learning anew to exercise power at the local level.” (Overview. Princeton University Press)


Preface and Introduction

Ch. 1: Myth in the Making

Ch. 2: Beginnings of the Imaginary of a Permanent Global War

Ch. 3: Democracy’s Perversion

Ch. 4: The New World of Terror

Ch. 5: The Utopian Theory of Superpower: The Official Version

Ch. 6: The Dynamics of Transformation

Ch. 7: The Dynamics of the Archaic

Ch. 8: The Politics of Superpower: Managed Democracy

Ch. 9: Intellectual Elites against Democracy

Ch. 10: Domestic Politics in the Era of Superpower and Empire

Ch. 11: Inverted Totalitarianism: Antecedents and Precedents

Ch. 12: Demotic Moments

Ch. 13: Democracy’s Prospects: Looking Backwards