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Democracy For the Few

Ninth Edition

Democracy for the Few cover
Distributed by Wadsworth

“…The Parenti text challenges students, perhaps for the first time, to critically assess the dominant pluralist paradigm; that it invites students to consider the ubiquity of politics in their lives; that they confront the struggle and inevitable conflict between democracy and capitalism, which is usually ignored.” —Christopher A. Leu, California State University, Northridge

“Years after they read it, some students have remarked that it was the most important book they’ve read in college.” —Michelle Brophy-Baermann, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Pt.

“Parenti is more readable than Noam Chomsky, and more serious than Michael Moore.” —Richard Stahler-Sholk, Eastern Michigan University

The study of politics is itself a political act, containing little that is neutral. True, we can all agree on certain neutral facts about the structure of government and the like. However, the book that does not venture much beyond these minimal descriptions will offend few readers but also will interest few. Any determined pursuit of how and why things happen draws us into highly controversial areas. Most textbooks pretend to a neutrality they do not really possess. While claiming to be objective, they are merely conventional. They depict the status quo in implicitly accepting terms, propagating fairly orthodox notions about American politics.

For decades, mainstream political scientists and other apologists for the existing social order have tried to transform practically every deficiency in our political system into a strength. They would have us believe that the millions who are nonvoters are content with present social conditions, that high-powered lobbyists are nothing to worry about because they perform an information function vital to representative government, and that the growing concentration of executive power is a good thing because the president is democratically responsive to broad national interests. The apologists have argued that the exclusion of third parties is really for the best because too many parties (that is, more than two) would fractionalize and destabilize our political system, and besides, the major parties eventually incorporate into their platforms the positions raised by minor parties (which is news to a number of socialist parties whose views have remained unincorporated for more than a century).

Reacting to the mainstream tendency to turn every vice into a virtue, left critics of the status quo have felt compelled to turn every virtue into a vice. Thus they have argued that electoral struggle is meaningless, that our civil liberties are a charade, that federal programs for the needy are next to worthless, that reforms are mostly sops to the oppressed, and labor unions are all complacent, corrupt, and conservative. The left critics have been a much needed antidote to the happy pluralists who painted a silver lining around every murky cloud. But they were wrong in seeing no victories, no “real” progress in the democratic struggles fought and won. Democracy for the Few tries to strike a balance; it tries to explain how democracy is incongruous with modern-day capitalism and is consistently violated by a capitalist social order, and yet how democracy refuses to die and continues to fight back and even make gains despite the great odds against popular forces.

  1. Partisan Politics
    Beyond Textbooks
    The Politico-economic System

  2. A Constitution for the Few
    Class Power in Early America
    Containing the Spread of Democracy
    Plotters or Patriots?
    Democratic Concessions

  3. Rise of the Corporate State
    The War Against Labor
    Favors for Business
    Pliable Progressives and Red Scares
    The New Deal: Hard Times and Tough Reforms

  4. Wealth and Want in the United States
    Capital and Labor
    Capital Concentration: Who Owns America?
    Downsizing and Profiteering
    Inflation, the Profit-Price Spiral
    Monopoly Farming
    Market Demand and Productivity
    Desirable Unemployment
    The Hardships of Working America
    Poverty in Paradise
    The Human Costs of Economic Injustice

  5. Institutions and Ideologies
    Corporate Plutocracy
    Ideological Orthodoxy
    Corporate Rule and Ruin: Some Examples
    Left, Right, and Center
    Public Opinion: Which Direction?
    Democracy: Form and Content

  6. Politics: Who Gets What?
    Welfare for the Rich
    Federal Handouts to Corporate America
    The Billion Dollar Bailouts
    Taxes: Helping the Rich in Their Time of Greed
    Unkind Cuts, Unfair Rates
    Deficit Spending and the National Debt
    Some Hidden Deficits

  7. Health and Human Services: Sacrificial Lambs
    The Poor Get Less (and Less)
    Social Insecurity: Privatizing Everything
    A Sick Health System
    The Health Insurance Racket
    The "Socialist" Medical Menace?
    Buyers Beware and Workers Too
    Creating Crises: Schools and Housing
    "Mess Transit"

  8. The Last Environment
    Toxifying the Earth
    Pollution for Profits
    Government for the Despoilers
    An Alternative Approach

  9. Unequal before the Law
    Crime in the Suites
    Big Crime, Small Punishment (Usually)
    Class Law: Tough on the Weak
    The Crime of Prisons
    A Most Fallible System
    Sexist Justice
    The Victimization of Children
    Racist Law Enforcement

  10. Political Repression and National Insecurity
    The Repression of Dissent
    Political Prisoners, USA
    Political Murder, USA
    The National Security Autocracy
    CIA: Capitalismís International Army or Cocaine Import Agency?
    Watergate and Iran-Contra
    Homeland Insecurity

  11. The U.S. Global Military Empire
    A Global Kill Capacity
    Pentagon Profits, Waste, and Theft
    The Militaryís Hidden Diseconomies
    Economic Imperialism
    Intervention Everywhere
    Global Bloodletting

  12. Who Governs? Elites, Labor, and Globalization
    The Ruling Class
    Labor Besieged
    Unions and the Good Fight
    How Globalization Undermines Democracy

  13. Mass Media: For the Many, by the Few
    He Who Pays the Piper
    The Ideological Monopoly
    Serving Officialdom
    Political Entertainment
    Room for Alternatives?

  14. Voters, Parties, and Stolen Elections
    Democrats and Republicans: Any Differences?
    The Two-Party Monopoly
    Making Every Vote Count
    Rigging the Game
    Money, A Necessary Condition
    The Struggle to Vote
    The War Against Imaginary "Voter Fraud"
    Shady Elections
    Pale Democracy

  15. Congress: The Pocketing of Power
    A Congress for the Money
    Lobbyists: The Other Lawmakers
    The Varieties of Corruption
    Special-Interests and Secrecy
    The Legislative Labyrinth
    Incumbency and Term Limits
    Legislative Democracy Under Siege

  16. The President: Guardian of the System
    Salesman of the System
    The Two Faces of the President
    Feds vs. States
    A Loaded Electoral College
    The Rise of Executive Power
    The Would-be Absolute Monarch
    The Class Power Context

  17. The Political Economy of Bureaucracy
    The Myth and Reality of Inefficiency
    Deregulation and Privatization
    Secrecy and Deception, Waste and Corruption
    Nonenforcement: Politics in Command
    Serving the "Regulated"
    Public Authority in Private Hands
    Regulation and Business Ideology

  18. The Supremely Political Court
    Who Judges?
    Conservative Judicial Activism (Early Times)
    Circumventing the First Amendment
    Freedom for Revolutionaries (and Others)?
    As the Court Turns
    Conservative Judicial Activism (Present Day)

  19. Democracy for the Few
    Pluralism for the Few
    The Limits of Reform
    Democracy as Class Struggle
    The Roles of the State
    What Is to Be Done?
    The Reality of Public Production

Copyright © 1992 - 2007 Michael Parenti. All rights reserved.