The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement

David Graeber. Random/Spiegel & Grau, $26 (318p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9356-1
Part first-person history of the Occupy movement, part how-to manual, this hopeful book considers "the possibility of democracy in America"—that is, leaderless direct democracy. Graeber, an anthropologist whose Debt: The First 5,000 Years put the modern, debt-based global financial system in broad historical context, makes the argument that the current political system is not the only option. Beginning with the 2011 occupation of Zucotti Park, Graeber examines the movement's successes before looking at U.S. media coverage and the movement's spread to communities nationwide. He voices both the frustration and elation that emerged from Occupy while addressing and reframing criticisms like the refusal to engage with the existing political system. The book's second half makes a case for direct democracy, gives examples of recent political upheavals that led to more directly democratic systems, and offers guideposts for greater participation in direct democracy. Graeber points out the fascinating shift in meaning for the term democracy—which from an analogue of anarchy became, through the Founding Fathers, a means to contain such direct participation in political affairs—and his positive, forward-looking ideas make a world in which "freedom becomes the ultimate organizing principle" seem well within our reach. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/08/2013
Release date: 04/09/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 182 pages - 978-0-679-64600-6
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-7181-9456-7
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-8129-8383-8
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