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  • Democracy Incorporated

  • Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
  • By: Sheldon S. Wolin
  • Narrated by: Joe Barrett
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Democracy Incorporated

By: Sheldon S. Wolin
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
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Summary

Democracy is struggling in America - by now this statement is almost cliche. 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" in which the public is sheperded, 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.

Democracy Incorporated is one of the most worrying diagnoses of America's political ills to emerge in decades. It is sure to be a lightening rod for political debate for years to come.

The book is published by Princeton University Press.

©2008 Princeton University Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Sheldon Wolin has produced an ambitious and broad-ranging book that examines the current state of democracy in America.... Wolin argues that the unquestioned faith in the virtues of free market capitalism has dramatically narrowed the range of policy options that are on the table when debate turns to resolving the US's ills... [T]his is a trenchant and powerful volume." (Alex Waddan, International Affairs)
"As we've come to expect from Sheldon Wolin, a tightly argued and deeply revealing book about the dangers of unconstrained capitalism for our democracy." (Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; former U.S. Secretary of Labor)

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Overrated beyond words

I heard Chris Hedges talk about this book so much, it was an essential to read, and I almost felt like an obligation. When I listened to this book, good lord. The person reading it sounds like a sarcastic grandfather exasperated with every single sentence, or a monotone zombie counting down the hours until the contract expires.

And as for the book, it's such deadening repetition, and so obvious, any point is lost because it is so excruciatingly, and painfully boring. I would sooner have several root canals back to back than listen to even a paragraph of Wolin's whiney, self-referential, pseudo-intellectual guff again.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M. Levine
  • 25-02-11

Essential listening....

Sheldon Wolin's recent work provides an absolutely essential theoretical underpinning for anyone who finds himself (or herself) suspecting that what's going on with the U.S. is really, really uncool. Unlike the well-known media fascisti, it welcomes some real historical knowledge (NOT the bullsh-t platitudes that pass for such) and provides a nuanced, balanced account (Wolin spent many years teaching political philosophy at some major universities) of how real power functions today. If you find writers like Chris Hedges compelling, Wolin is the next logical place to go.

14 people found this helpful

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  • ann
  • 19-11-11

THE LIGHT IS DAWNING.

Until 9/11 I wasn't a bit interested in history or politics but that event shocked me utterly. I decided to read up on terrorism to determine the answer to the question put forth by President Bush, "why do they hate us?", followed by his advice to the populace, "go out and shop."

After many many books which took me all over the globe, I finally got the answer in Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Democracy in America is dead of dying, and no one is looking out for the 'little guy' who seems oblivious to the fact that his freedoms and rights are being, or already are eroded.

I discovered what the U.S. was up to in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 (see Charlie's War), and the whole world saw what happened in Iraq - 100,000 U.S. soldiers dead already. Meanwhile, Wall Street and the shadow banking system confiscated the wealth of the nation and assigned it to themselves while the 'little guy' suffers.

More ominous still, the world is at the mercy of the richest most powerful totalitarian regime in history. I am scared!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Letta Mego
  • 03-11-13

What the media won't tell you

If you could sum up Democracy Incorporated in three words, what would they be?

What we've become

What was one of the most memorable moments of Democracy Incorporated?

The whole book was memorable.

What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

Clear and concise, making every sentence have an impact.

If you could give Democracy Incorporated a new subtitle, what would it be?

Why the American Empire is Falling

Any additional comments?

After you read this, you'll wonder why TV, newspapers, the internet..is filling our heads with such garbage and leaving out the truth .. Please listen to this book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Robert Mullenberg
  • 06-12-20

Extraordinary!

Mr. Wolin draws together a myriad of intellectual threads into an American tapestry. He weaves a vibrant narrative that illustrates how our intellectual roots anchor us to the myths of our native land.

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  • Steven Cleghorn
  • 07-07-21

Please read this

if you want to understand democracy, you must read this book. It is a thorough treatment from a brilliant and considerate scholar and thinker.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Auctionmail20022000
  • 26-10-20

MAGA inc

Managed democracy and the terrifying reality of Joe Biden's America. the Evil empire has been unleashed,
political manipulation has made enemies of our fellow Americans.

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  • Brandon
  • 03-12-18

Honest, accurate, and insightful.

This is one of the best portrayals of what has happened to Democracy in the US, and overall the factors that have led to a massive erosion of constitutional rights, equality and political morals. Governed by a system of cyclical corruption, the fall towards totalitarianism is here and is increasing more rapidly by the day. Great job, Sheldon Wolin.

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  • Xavier Miranda
  • 02-01-17

Democracy Inc. is so pertinent in light of Trump's presidency

As an educator, I highly recommend this book as an essential companion to social studies curricula.

Knowing the process of how democracy has been co-opted allows us to resist and proceed accordingly. The concept of inverted totalitarianism correlates with the formula posed in the Powell Memo. Folks like Naomi Klein, Chomsky, Henry Giroux, and Richard Wolff have addressed the further dismantling of what's left of our democracy.

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  • LBO
  • 28-05-22

Not a balanced argument.

The perspective is very critical of Western Democracy & Christianity without context or explanation. I was disappointed because I was interested in the exploration of the natural evolution of democracy.

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  • Savannah McDonald
  • 12-01-21

Wow! Brilliantly written and very prescient.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time! Incredibly well researched and written. The author seems to have an uncanny ability to predict the trajectory of democracy and the corporate take over in America. I wish he were alive today to write new material about what is happening at this point in history. We could surely use his wisdom.