Zakaria is in many ways a heretic. The basic premise of his book is: there is such a thing as too much democracy. A system that is more "democratic" just means it is more open to influence by billionaires, extremists, and demagogues. You replace one set of elites with another.
Following the storming of the Capitol this week, I chose to pull out Hoffer's "True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements." Definitely has a lot of explanatory power, but Hoffer strikes me as a pessimist. It left me with the impression all mass movements, regardless of their ideals, are inherently evil.
Richard Bushman analyzed Joseph Smith's claims of authority as prophet through the lens of Max Weber's concept of political legitimacy. So I went straight to the source and read Politik als Beruf in the original German!
Stevens was a top Republican campaign strategist for many state and national elections, including Bush and Romney. His thesis: Trump isn't an aberration of the Republican party; he is its culmination. What happened to balancing the budget? Small government? Personal responsibility instead of playing the victim? Character counts? These principles that were supposedly the bedrock of the Republican party were abandoned over night when Trump was elected.
Just as Jim Crow replaced slavery as a means of racial control in America, mass incarceration of people of color has replaced Jim Crow. The really harsh thing isn't the prison time-- it's the label that comes along with it for the rest of your life that bars you from jobs, government programs, and even the right to vote.
"There is nothing so absurd, that it can't be said by a philosopher." Wiker's thesis is that ideas have power, and a lot of them can be dangerous. OF the 14 books be reviews, some would be universally condemned such as Hitler's Mein Kampf-- but others were written by eminent scientists such as Darwin's "Descent of Man."
Wiker's book claims a lot of ground for the conservative tradition-- he calls on both Chesterton and Lewis, and both Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments, and even Lord of the Rings. But Wiker's vision of conservatism seems very different from the current embodiment of the Republican party. His discussions surrounding self-government, a distributed economy, and cultivation of virtue seem like a call to return to our roots. It is a refreshing reminder that politics shouldn't be entirely defined by what we're against.
My COVID-19 reading has been slowed when I lost my commute time, but I did manage to finish David Gore's *Voice of the People*. And what a read! It's a deep-dive into Mosiah 29-Alma 2, the regime change from a reign of kings to a reign of judges. Gore pulls out a lot of timely messages for our own political discourse.
My review is READ THIS BOOK. While the book is trying to address a contemporary question, Does Trump pose a threat to democracy?, it helps put the question into context, looking at history of American democracy as well as democracies of other countries that have lapsed into authoritarianism.
Imagine a dystopian society where corporations run the world. Ah, crap. Wu gets his trustbusting on with this exceptional take on how the economic becomes the political. Competition, not non-intervention should be the supreme value of markets. Concentrated power of any form, including economic, is a threat to democracy.