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The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated some of the strengths of our society, including the rapid development of vaccines. But the pandemic has also exposed its glaring weaknesses, such as the failure of our government to develop and quickly implement strategies for tracing and containing outbreaks as well as widespread public distrust of government prompted by often confusing and conflicting choices—to mask, or not to mask. Even worse is that over half a million deaths and the extensive economic devastation could have been avoided if the government had been prepared to undertake comprehensive, contextually-sensitive policies to stop the spread of the disease.
In Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus, leading political thinker Danielle Allen untangles the US government’s COVID-19 victories and failures to offer a plan for creating a more resilient democratic polity—one that can better respond to both the present pandemic and future crises. Looking to history, Allen also identifies the challenges faced by democracies in other times that required strong government action. In an analysis spanning from ancient Greece to the Reconstruction Amendments and the present day, Allen argues for the relative effectiveness of collaborative federalism over authoritarian compulsion and for the unifying power of a common cause. But for democracy to endure, we—as participatory citizens—must commit to that cause: a just and equal social contract and support for good governance.
Using examples from the United States, India, Germany, and Cameroon, the contributors offer paradigm-changing approaches to the concepts of justice, identity, and social groups while also taking a fresh look at the idea that the demographic make-up of institutions should mirror the make-up of a populace as a whole. After laying out the conceptual framework, the volume turns to a number of provocative topics, among them the pernicious tenacity of implicit bias, the logical contradictions inherent to the idea of universal human dignity, and the paradoxes and problems surrounding affirmative action. A stimulating blend of empirical and interpretive analyses, Difference without Domination urges us to reconsider the idea of representation and to challenge what it means to measure equality and inequality.
'Unbearably moving' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The story of a young man's coming of age, a tender tribute to a life lost, and a devastating analysis of a broken system.
Aged 15 and living in LA, Michael Allen was arrested for a botched carjacking. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years behind bars. After growing up in prison Michael was then released aged 26, only to be murdered three years later.
In this deeply personal yet clear-eyed memoir, Danielle Allen reconstructs her cousin's life to try and understand how this tragedy came to pass. We get to know Michael himself through the eyes of a devoted relative, moving from his first steps to his first love through to the day of his arrest, his coming of age in prison, and his attempts to make up for lost time after his release. We learn what it's like to grow up in a city carved up by invisible gang borders; and we learn how a generation has been lost.
With honesty and insight, Cuz circles around its subject, exposing it from all angles to reveal the shocking reality of a broken system. The result is a devastatingly powerful yet reasoned tribute to a life lost too soon.
'The book pleads with us to find the moral imagination to break the American pattern of racial abuse. Allen's ambitious, breathtaking book challenges the moral composition of the world it inhabits by telling all who listen: I loved my cousin and he loved me, and I know he'd be alive if you loved him, too' Kiese Laymon
Allen argues that education plays a crucial role in the cultivation of political and social equality and economic fairness, but that we have lost sight of exactly what that role is and should be. Drawing on thinkers such as John Rawls and Hannah Arendt, she sketches out a humanistic baseline that re-links education to equality, showing how doing so can help us reframe policy questions. From there, she turns to civic education, showing that we must reorient education’s trajectory toward readying students for lives as democratic citizens. Deepened by commentaries from leading thinkers Tommie Shelby, Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Michael Rebell, and Quiara Alegría Hudes that touch on issues ranging from globalization to law to linguistic empowerment, this book offers a critical clarification of just how important education is to democratic life, as well as a stirring defense of the humanities.
With From Voice to Influence, Danielle Allen and Jennifer S. Light have brought together a stellar group of political and social theorists, social scientists, and media analysts to explore this transformation. Threading through the contributions is the notion of egalitarian participatory democracy, and among the topics discussed are immigration rights activism, the participatory potential of hip hop culture, and the porous boundary between public and private space on social media. The opportunities presented for political efficacy through digital media to people who otherwise might not be easily heard also raise a host of questions about how to define “good participation:” Does the ease with which one can now participate in online petitions or conversations about current events seduce some away from serious civic activities into “slacktivism?”
Drawing on a diverse body of theory, from Hannah Arendt to Anthony Appiah, From Voice to Influence offers a range of distinctive visions for a political ethics to guide citizens in a digitally connected world.
“A tour de force.... No one has ever written a book on the Declaration quite like this one.” —Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books
Winner of the Zócalo Book Prize
Winner of the Society of American Historians’ Francis Parkman Prize
Winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize (Nonfiction)
Finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Hurston Wright Legacy Award
Shortlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
Shortlisted for the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Award
A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice Selection
Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Our Declaration is already regarded as a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text. Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation’s founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two-hundred years ago, but also still can. Challenging conventional wisdom, she boldly makes the case that the Declaration is a document as much about political equality as about individual liberty. Beautifully illustrated throughout, Our Declaration is an “uncommonly elegant, incisive, and often poetic primer on America’s cardinal text” (David M. Kennedy).
The contributors explore how the institutions and practices of education can support democracy, by creating the conditions for equal citizenship and egalitarian empowerment, and how they can advance justice, by securing social mobility and cultivating the talents and interests of every individual. Then the authors evaluate constraints on achieving the goals of democracy and justice in the educational arena and identify strategies that we can employ to work through or around those constraints. More than a thorough compendium on a timely and contested topic, Education, Justice, and Democracy exhibits an entirely new, more deeply composed way of thinking about education as a whole and its importance to a good society.
- Shows that Plato wrote to change Athenian society and thereby transform Athenian politics
- Offers accessible discussions of Plato’s philosophy of language and political theory
- Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2011
Returning to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954 and to the famous photograph of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, being cursed by fellow "citizen" Hazel Bryan, Allen argues that we have yet to complete the transition to political friendship that this moment offered. By combining brief readings of philosophers and political theorists with personal reflections on race politics in Chicago, Allen proposes strikingly practical techniques of citizenship. These tools of political friendship, Allen contends, can help us become more trustworthy to others and overcome the fossilized distrust among us.
Sacrifice is the key concept that bridges citizenship and trust, according to Allen. She uncovers the ordinary, daily sacrifices citizens make to keep democracy working—and offers methods for recognizing and reciprocating those sacrifices. Trenchant, incisive, and ultimately hopeful, Talking to Strangers is nothing less than a manifesto for a revitalized democratic citizenry.
For Danielle Allen, punishment is more a window onto democratic Athens' fundamental values than simply a set of official practices. From imprisonment to stoning to refusal of burial, instances of punishment in ancient Athens fueled conversations among ordinary citizens and political and literary figures about the nature of justice. Re-creating in vivid detail the cultural context of this conversation, Allen shows that punishment gave the community an opportunity to establish a shining myth of harmony and cleanliness: that the city could be purified of anger and social struggle, and perfect order achieved. Each member of the city--including notably women and slaves--had a specific role to play in restoring equilibrium among punisher, punished, and society. The common view is that democratic legal processes moved away from the "emotional and personal" to the "rational and civic," but Allen shows that anger, honor, reciprocity, spectacle, and social memory constantly prevailed in Athenian law and politics.
Allen draws upon oratory, tragedy, and philosophy to present the lively intellectual climate in which punishment was incurred, debated, and inflicted by Athenians. Broad in scope, this book is one of the first to offer both a full account of punishment in antiquity and an examination of the political stakes of democratic punishment. It will engage classicists, political theorists, legal historians, and anyone wishing to learn more about the relations between institutions and culture, normative ideas and daily events, punishment and democracy.