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Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern (Paperback)
  • Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern (Paperback)
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Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern (Paperback)

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£20.99
Paperback 240 Pages / Published: 01/08/2008
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Populism is a genuine 'third way' in politics, a middle path between the extremes of corporate anarchy and collective authoritarianism. It is a trenchant and timely study.Populism is distinguished from other political movements by its insistence on two things conspicuously missing from modern systems of political economy: genuine democracy based on local citizen assemblies, and the widespread distribution among the population of privately-owned economic capital. Adrian Kuzminski's book, in offering a comprehensive historical account of populism, shows that populism, now largely overlooked, has in fact had a consistent and distinct history since ancient times. Kuzminski demonstrates that populism is a tradition of practice as well as thought, ranging from ancient city states to the frontier communities of colonial America - all places where widely distributed private property and democratic decision-making combined to foster material prosperity and cultural innovation.The political economy of populism was first articulated by the ancient Greek philosopher Phaleas of Chalcedon and variously developed by thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, James Harrington, George Berkeley, Thomas Jefferson, Edward Kellogg and Frederick Soddy. Only where none are rich enough to dominate others economically nor poor enough to be so dominated, populists argue, can the public interest be served. By democracy-for-all, populists mean full and direct participation in empowered local citizen assemblies. This vision of a decentralised, 'bottom-up' democracy was developed in his later years by Thomas Jefferson, who called for completing the American revolution by rooting broader levels of government in such local assemblies, which he called 'ward republics.' The book includes extensive extracts from Jefferson's writings on the matter.In calling for a wide distribution of both property and democracy, populism opposes the political and economic system found today in the United States and other Western countries, where property remains highly concentrated in private hands and where representatives chosen in impersonal mass elections frustrate democracy by serving private monied interests rather than the public good. As one of very few systematic alternatives to our current political and economic system, populism offers a pragmatic program for fundamental social reform which deserves wide and serious consideration.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9780826429605
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 272 g
Dimensions: 216 x 138 x 14 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Focusing primarily on populism in the West, Kuzminski traces populism's origins back to the days of Greek city states such as Athens. He also offers a withering critique of the state of most Western democracies, which he views as corporate oligarchies that perpetuate themselves by means of plebiscites that only provide passive popular acquiescence to the chosen policies of an elite. And he writes that no system can be called democratic unless citizens are owners of property and have a direct, active involvement in the formation of the policies of their government. Populists claim that 'property for all' means the widespread personal ownership of private capital sufficient to establish the relative economic independence of citizens. When none are rich enough to dominate others, and none are poor enough to be dominated, the public rather than the private interest is likely to be served."David Isenberg, The Journal of Peace Research
"Fixing the System is, as it were, a rare new book, one in which a serious political theorist does startlingly original and important thinking about populism, democracy, and our present American society. Tracing the history of populism through two and a half centuries, Kuzminski eviscerates the allegedly democratic American system as collective authoritarianism and presents populism rooted in decentralized economic justice as an approximately egalitarian democratic alternative. Expect, if you read Kuzminski, to be shaken up where it most matters: in your mind."- Ronnie Dugger, founding editor of The Texas Observer and co-founder of the Alliance for Democracy.
"Kuzminski (philosophy, Hartwick College) laments the substitution of representative democracy and capitalist economics, amounting to plutocracy, for a genuinely democratic system of direct popular rule by citizens who "do not differ significantly in wealth and power.."..Kuzminski's rhetoric is shrill, his political and economic judgments unsupported by factual evidence, and his prose repetitive and filled with typos. Summing Up: Not recommended." - D. Schaefer, CHOICE, January 2009--Sanford Lakoff
"This gracefully written, broadly researched study is a work of many aspects. It is part history and part philosophy and also has a psychological dimension....More important: Fixing the System is sound intellectual history, a serious contribution to the study of American economic and political thought. Kuzminski is an intellectual, a thinker, and all the populist writers, from Phaleas via Aristotle through Harrington, Jefferson, Kellogg et al., have been intellectuals, thinkers. They presented their ideas in books and essays and in letters. They did not institute their ideas or make notable efforts to institute them. Kuzminski's notable contribution is not in the presentation of practical measure to achieve political and economic equality but to present an ideal system for that achievement...This is a serious study by a deeply thoughtful observer of present-day politics and economics and a student of the complexities of these activities through the centuries...It should be read by anyone interested in the human past and the human present." -New York History, Spring 2008
"Kuzminski (philosophy, Hartwick College) laments the substitution of representative democracy and capitalist economics, amounting to plutocracy, for a genuinely democratic system of direct popular rule by citizens who "do not differ significantly in wealth and power...".Kuzminski's rhetoric is shrill, his political and economic judgments unsupported by factual evidence, and his prose repetitive and filled with typos. Summing Up: Not recommended." - D. Schaefer, CHOICE, January 2009
-Fixing the System is, as it were, a rare new book, one in which a serious political theorist does startlingly original and important thinking about populism, democracy, and our present American society. Tracing the history of populism through two and a half centuries, Kuzminski eviscerates the allegedly democratic American system as collective authoritarianism and presents populism rooted in decentralized economic justice as an approximately egalitarian democratic alternative. Expect, if you read Kuzminski, to be shaken up where it most matters: in your mind.-- Ronnie Dugger, founding editor of The Texas Observer and co-founder of the Alliance for Democracy.
-Kuzminski (philosophy, Hartwick College) laments the substitution of representative democracy and capitalist economics, amounting to plutocracy, for a genuinely democratic system of direct popular rule by citizens who -do not differ significantly in wealth and power.-...Kuzminski's rhetoric is shrill, his political and economic judgments unsupported by factual evidence, and his prose repetitive and filled with typos. Summing Up: Not recommended.- - D. Schaefer, CHOICE, January 2009
-This gracefully written, broadly researched study is a work of many aspects. It is part history and part philosophy and also has a psychological dimension....More important: Fixing the System is sound intellectual history, a serious contribution to the study of American economic and political thought. Kuzminski is an intellectual, a thinker, and all the populist writers, from Phaleas via Aristotle through Harrington, Jefferson, Kellogg et al., have been intellectuals, thinkers. They presented their ideas in books and essays and in letters. They did not institute their ideas or make notable efforts to institute them. Kuzminski's notable contribution is not in the presentation of practical measure to achieve political and economic equality but to present an ideal system for that achievement...This is a serious study by a deeply thoughtful observer of present-day politics and economics and a student of the complexities of these activities through the centuries...It should be read by anyone interested in the human past and the human present.- -New York History, Spring 2008

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