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Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against…
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Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism (edição 2004)

por Cornel West

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741830,750 (3.91)5
In his major bestseller, Race Matters, philosopher Cornel West burst onto the national scene with his searing analysis of the scars of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, still in print after ten years, having sold more than four hundred thousand copies. A mesmerizing speaker with a host of fervidly devoted fans, West gives as many as one hundred public lectures a year and appears regularly on radio and television. Praised by The New York Times for his "ferocious moral vision" and hailed by Newsweek as "an elegant prophet with attitude," he bridges the gap between black and white opinion about the country's problems. In Democracy Matters, West returns to the analysis of the arrested development of democracy-both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In a strikingly original diagnosis, he argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, we must first wake up to the long history of imperialist corruption that has plagued our own democracy. Both our failure to foster peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis of Islamist anti-Americanism stem largely from hypocrisies in our dealings with the world. Racism and imperial expansionism have gone hand in hand in our country's inexorable drive toward hegemony, and our current militarism is only the latest expression of that drive. Even as we are shocked by Islamic fundamentalism, our own brand of fundamentalism, which West dubs Constantinian Christianity, has joined forces with imperialist corporate and political elites in an unholy alliance, and four decades after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., insidious racism still inflicts debilitating psychic pain on so many of our citizens. But there is a deep democratic tradition in America of impassioned commitment to the fight against imperialist corruptions-the last great expression of which was the civil rights movement led by Dr. King-and West brings forth the powerful voices of that great democratizing tradition in a brilliant and deeply moving call for the revival of our better democratic nature. His impassioned and provocative argument for the revitalization of America's democracy will reshape the terms of the raging national debate about America's role in today's troubled world.… (mais)
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This is one of my least favorite Cornel West books. It is ostensibly a book about democracy, but it's actually mostly a rant about race (and separately, religion). It's unclear to me what he means by democracy (although I'm not a huge fan of what I understand to be democracy, myself; human rights are critical, but the system of representation for government is an instrumentality.)

His whole "argumentation style" is a mix of nice-sounding rant mixed with fairly out of context and over the top references. When he's talking about racial issues directly, he's more clear, but viewing every single aspect of the world through a racial lens seems insane (he's worse than the white supremacist/nazi/etc whackos in degree!)

The really horrible part is when he goes into economics; he's basically a Marxist. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
p. 15 Cornel West makes vitally important points on our need to empower and inspire a democratic way of thinking and behaving,

p. 16 Socratic? Tikkun Olam, Hope

p. 19 I must read Checkhov after I finish el Quixote

p. 22 Nice citation of Walt Whitman qnd Modern Jim Crow ... "the way we fight" ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
I was not expecting too much from this book. I’d heard of West before but mostly from television interviews and not from any works he had produced. This book was probably overly ambitious but I was impressed by his desire to do some serious work in a very short book. That’s usually a recipe for failure to bite off more than you can chew but I admired what he was trying to do. He stated his aim and tried to accomplish it in the 218 pages that followed. He gives about 40 pages to describing and solving the Middle East issues. That’s pretty daring. This work is his own view on why democracy is our way of living in America. West’s theme is that Socratic questioning/confrontation, prophetic witness, and tragicomic hope are the best avenues to stop the USA being led toward Imperialism or nihilism. These are technical terms in the book and are used frequently within his political theory. I was pleased that he was doing a semi-classical political science treatise. This book is a follow-up to an earlier book “Race Matters” which I hadn’t read.
West posits that our nation has been founded on racist and imperial practices (as well as democratic). “Democracy Matters” is a [literary & philosophical] lens of race on America as West tries to “make the world safe for the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his secular democratic allies of all colors.” (p. 60) Many of Obama’s speechwriter’s ideas on the US military seem to come from West as all military actions have been attributed as attempts to further imperial expansion and therefore widening America’s economic empire. Obama has said the same thing on numerous occasions. Recently Obama has eliminated the imperial veneer from his comments on the actions of US military (Obama has seemed to realize that he is also the Commander in Chief).
The best part of the book by far occurs when West talks about hip hop music and how he was confronted by the new University President for being interested enough to engage students about it. Lawrence Summers, Harvard’s incoming President, is the comic relief as West presents it. I was laughing out loud while reading because West probably puts it down exactly as it happened. If you’ve been in academia for any amount of time, you’ll love his account. In fact, check out the book from the library and read that section just for laughs. Summers is a real douche. I mean, he’s the best douche you’ll find in a recent book about higher education. Politics and sports are their own domain, but Mr. Summers will make your day.
West has major philosophical flaws in several parts of the book. It was a good read, nonetheless. Index. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Oct 8, 2014 |
There are two kinds of university professors: those who put one to sleep. And then there is Cornell West. If half the university professors in the US were as dynamic, energetic, and inspiring as West, three-fourths of the university population would come out of the university actually educated in terms of depth and substance, rather than merely with a "better" set of job skills which can be traded in the marketplace for a bigger paycheck. As West understands and makes clear, education is to make one a better person and citizen -- not simply to teach one how to make more money.

It is rare to find such a provocative and stimulating tour de force of reasoning just waiting to explode out from between the covers of a book. There is brilliant and obscure; and then there is Cornell West: brilliant, clear, and even musical in his prose. He sings democracy, and the reader finally "gets" the meaning of it.

Another said he doesn't offer anything "programatic" as solutions to our current circumstances. Yes, he does: he demonstrates to the reader what democracy is, and then you act in accordance with that. You are the "programatic" solution, because in a democracy one isn't only to be "free" and cavalier; one is also required to act in accordance with one's individual responsibilities as a citizen. Waiting for someone else to come up with a "program," someone else to do it, is why we are in our current circumstances. This is the Founders' view as they established it in law:
_____

Bill of Rights, Article I.

III. When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others . . . .

XII. Every member of the community has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property; he is therefore bound to contribute his share in the expence of such protection, and to yield his personal service when necessary, or an equivalent. . . .

New Hampshire constitution, in convention, at Concord, October 31, 1783, implemented June 2, 1784.
  JNagarya | Jun 23, 2008 |
This was probably one of the toughest yet most rewarding books I've ever read. I feel like I've almost spoken with Socrates and listened to the notes coming live from Coltrane's sax- and even though this hyperbole is far from reality, I do feel like a better, more educated person for reading this book.
Socratic questioning, prophetic tradition, and the democratic experiment are now not only something I believe in but are something palpable and that I can base life experiences upon.
West writes with a fervor that I've experienced so few times prior. Like I mentioned previously, it's a tough read at times, but oh so necessary and rewarding. Dr. West covers a lot of ground, but it all comes full circle to tell a meaningful and important story/ lesson about the fundamental ideals that our society is (or should be) based on. ( )
  AMson | Jul 5, 2007 |
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In his major bestseller, Race Matters, philosopher Cornel West burst onto the national scene with his searing analysis of the scars of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, still in print after ten years, having sold more than four hundred thousand copies. A mesmerizing speaker with a host of fervidly devoted fans, West gives as many as one hundred public lectures a year and appears regularly on radio and television. Praised by The New York Times for his "ferocious moral vision" and hailed by Newsweek as "an elegant prophet with attitude," he bridges the gap between black and white opinion about the country's problems. In Democracy Matters, West returns to the analysis of the arrested development of democracy-both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In a strikingly original diagnosis, he argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, we must first wake up to the long history of imperialist corruption that has plagued our own democracy. Both our failure to foster peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis of Islamist anti-Americanism stem largely from hypocrisies in our dealings with the world. Racism and imperial expansionism have gone hand in hand in our country's inexorable drive toward hegemony, and our current militarism is only the latest expression of that drive. Even as we are shocked by Islamic fundamentalism, our own brand of fundamentalism, which West dubs Constantinian Christianity, has joined forces with imperialist corporate and political elites in an unholy alliance, and four decades after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., insidious racism still inflicts debilitating psychic pain on so many of our citizens. But there is a deep democratic tradition in America of impassioned commitment to the fight against imperialist corruptions-the last great expression of which was the civil rights movement led by Dr. King-and West brings forth the powerful voices of that great democratizing tradition in a brilliant and deeply moving call for the revival of our better democratic nature. His impassioned and provocative argument for the revitalization of America's democracy will reshape the terms of the raging national debate about America's role in today's troubled world.

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