Is democracy, or “true” democracy, the pinnacle of human social organization? Is the fundamental goal of socialist revolution the broadening and deepening of democratic institutions? Bob Avakian argues that there is something far more subversive of the status quo, something far more liberating, than democracy.
Avakian examines the notion of democracy as it was developed in ancient Greece and Rome and dissects the democratic theory of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Paine, and Mill. He explores the ideological underpinnings of the modern theory of totalitarianism and goes on to critique Western Marxist and revisionist Soviet conceptions of the relationship between democracy and revolution. In concluding his study, Avakian sketches the transformative possibilities of socialist revolution, while, at the same time, considering the problems and tensions intrinsic to making such a revolution.
Democracy, Can’t We Do Better Than That? compels one to rethink the structures and possibilities of social organization; its practical and programmatic import is immense. Not all readers will agree with its conclusions. But no one who reads this work will quite be able to view democracy through the same prism again.
“In political discussion, ‘democracy’ is normally treated as a simple, unquestioned, timeless good against which all forms of political life can be objectively tested. Avakian attempts to go to the root of democratic theory and practice by a detailed examination of its sources and history, and, as a result, to show whose class interests are served by democratic institutions that only appear to serve everyone’s interests. Avakian presents incisive critiques of the standard arguments for democracy in such classics as de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. In addition, the author engages radical and socialist reinterpretations of democracy which he finds still tied to the prevailing bourgeois theories. Avakian argues his position on the decisive limitations of democracy in such a way that careful readers are compelled to clarify and rethink their own views. Avakian has written a serious and demanding work of political philosophy and political practice.”
Norman K. Gottwald (editor of The Bible and Liberation: Political Science and Social Hermeneutics)
“This new Special edition of Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? is a welcome event. Bob Avakian demolishes the conventional wisdom of democracy, showing how and why this is extremely confining; and he provides an emancipatory vision in which the assumptions of democracy are transcended. Humanity faces extreme and in many ways unprecedented problems. The issues addressed in this book have everything to do with whether the world stays the way it is…or whether humanity will transform it through communist revolution that opens up whole new vistas of freedom. This landmark text—the most comprehensive Marxist treatment of democracy—takes on heightened relevance in today’s world.”
Raymond Lotta (author of America in Decline)
Sub: Political Science; Philosophy; History