Details

ISBN-10: 0190056711
ISBN-13: 9780190056711
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date: 10/01/2019
Dimensions: 8.20" L, 5.60" W, 1.90" H

Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought

Paperback

Price: $29.95

Overview

In this magnificent and encyclopedic overview, James T. Kloppenberg presents the history of democracy from the perspective of those who struggled to envision and achieve it. The story of democracy remains one without an ending, a dynamic of progress and regress that continues to our own day. In the classical age democracy was seen as the failure rather than the ideal of good governance. Democracies were deemed chaotic and bloody, indicative of rule by the rabble rather than by enlightened minds. Beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, first in Europe and then in England’s North American colonies, the reputation of democracy began to rise, resulting in changes that were sometimes revolutionary and dramatic, sometimes gradual and incremental.

Kloppenberg offers a fresh look at how concepts and institutions of representative government developed and how understandings of self-rule changed over time on both sides of the Atlantic. Notions about what constituted true democracy preoccupied many of the most influential thinkers of the Western world, from Montaigne and Roger Williams to Milton and John Locke; from Rousseau and Jefferson to Wollstonecraft and Madison; and from de Tocqueville and J. S. Mill to Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Over three centuries, explosive ideas and practices of democracy sparked revolutions–English, American, and French–that again and again culminated in civil wars, disastrous failures of democracy that impeded further progress.

Comprehensive, provocative, and authoritative, Toward Democracy traces self-government through three pivotal centuries. The product of twenty years of research and reflection, this momentous work reveals how nations have repeatedly fallen short in their attempts to construct democratic societies based on the principles of autonomy, equality, deliberation, and reciprocity that they have claimed to prize. Underlying this exploration lies Kloppenberg’s compelling conviction that democracy was and remains an ethical ideal rather than merely a set of institutions, a goal toward which we continue to struggle.

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Reviews

In exploring the variety of democratic forms that arose in the Atlantic world, Kloppenberg reminds readers that popular self-government was not preordained by modernity nor brought into the world at a single heroic moment.–Foreign Affairs


The book dazzles through its range and sweep, offering new interpretations of familiar texts and drawing attention to unfamiliar ones.–Kunal M. Parker, The Journal of American History


This ambitious book is much more than a description of successive democratic ideals. Kloppenberg identifies a specific set of principles that characterize democracy and another set of conditions of possibility for a democratic order...The historical narrative illuminates the history of democratic thought and simultaneously advances an argument for specific institutional features of modern democracy.–James Livesey, American Historical Review


James T. Kloppenberg's thoughtful and ambitious intellectual history of democracy is most welcome. Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought is learned, well-written, and jargon-free. Its scope is immense...With Toward Democracy, James Kloppenberg has written a strikingly thoughtful work on the democratic experiment. He is an eloquent partisan who writes seriously about self-limitation and the moral foundations of democracy.–Daniel J. Mahoney, Claremont Review of Books


An original discussion of how the idea of democracy took root and has been transformed in the West...As [Kloppenberg] observes, the ability of people to govern themselves without an entrenched class of overseers has long been a matter of controversy, though the argument has a chicken-and-egg quality to it . . . Surveying the subsequent political landscape, Kloppenberg allows that the debate has found plenty of room to continue to rage. Elsewhere, he writes of the idea that the people have not just the right, but also the duty to resist 'tyrants who flout divine law, ' as well as the idea that the source of authority truly lies in the consent of the governed and 'the conscience of individual citizens.' . . . A book to read, profitably, alongside Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies. -Kirkus Reviews


This is intellectual history on a monumental scale. In a time when democracy again seems tragically fragile, James Kloppenberg has given us a sweeping, searching and enormously timely account of its development in European and American thought. Starting with Michel de Montaigne reflecting upon savage religious violence in France, and concluding with Abraham Lincoln trying to bind up America's wounds at the end of the Civil War, Kloppenberg's account is framed by bloodshed, underlining his central argument about just how difficult the struggle has been for democratic ideals to prevail. -David A. Bell, Lapidus Professor, Department of History, Princeton University


James Kloppenberg has spent years thinking fruitfully and writing wisely about both the moral underpinnings of democracy and the interaction between American and European thought. Toward Democracy is his magnum opus, and what an extraordinary contribution it is. Our democracies would work better if, as Kloppenberg suggests, we followed St. Paul's injunction to see through each other's eyes and think through each other's minds. -E. J. Dionne, Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong and Our Divided Political Heart


Learned and magisterial, James Kloppenberg's important history of democracy in modern European and American thought is not just a political story but a moral one, of democracy as an elusive ethical ideal requiring self-restraint and reciprocity. -Caroline Winterer, Director and Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities, Stanford Humanities Center


This impressive work, a monument to the author's lifetime of historical scholarship, provides a lucid, richly informed narrative about the struggle for democracy across the centuries. . . . Kloppenberg's focus is on the ideas of great thinkers: His book demonstrates the recovery of intellectual history after years of neglect. -Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848


Toward Democracy will surely become a vital guide as citizens try to recalibrate the balance of freedom and equality for our own time. -Commonweal Magazine


Kloppenberg braids minor key notes into his symphony of world-altering achievements.
-Shepherd Express


Let there be no doubt: Toward Democracy makes a major contribution to both scholarship and citizenship in America. -Harvard Magazine


With Toward Democracy, James T. Kloppenberg has undertaken nothing less than the story of democracy 'as it was imagined, understood, and practiced' from its origins in ancient Greece to its modern emergence in the 18th and 19th centuries. . . . In a series of finely crafted summaries of European thinkers and their American interpreters (including Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin), he shows how the genius of democracy took shape in the American mind and then asserted itself in independence and in the ratification of the Constitution. -The Wall Street Journal


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Details

ISBN-10: 0190056711
ISBN-13: 9780190056711
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date: 10/01/2019
Dimensions: 8.20" L, 5.60" W, 1.90" H
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