No political concept is more used, and misused, than that of democracy. Looking at key case studies, this explores the history of the doctrine and practice of democracy, and of the usages and practices associated with it in the modern world.
This book introduces readers to the concepts of political philosophy. It starts by explaining why the subject is important and how it tackles basic ethical questions such as 'how should we live together in society?' It looks at political authority, the reasons why we need politics at all, the limitations of politics, and whether there are areas of life that shouldn't be governed by politics. It explores the connections between political authority and justice, a constant theme in political philosophy, and the ways in which social justice can be used to regulate rather than destroy a market economy. David Miller discusses why nations are the natural units of government and whether the rise of multiculturalism and transnational co-operation will change this: will we ever see the formation of a world government? ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This concise volume fills a long-standing need for a sophisticated, brief primer on American national politics. A major theme of the book is the interplay between constitutional and extra-constitutional institutions and political processes. It provides engaging and exceptionally instructive treatments of the nuts-and-bolts of how American politics works and of the strengths of American democracy, while candidly considering gaps in representation and the issue of increasing income inequality.
Offering a practical and historical perspective on socialism this work explains the evolution of socialist ideas from the French Revolution, and examines why past attempts to implement socialism might have failed.
Beneath the surface of the apparently untutored and deceptively frank Abraham Lincoln ran private tunnels of self-taught study, a restless philosophical curiosity, and a profound grasp of the fundamentals of democracy. Now, in Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction, the award-winning Lincoln authority Allen C. Guelzo offers a penetrating look into the mind of one of our greatest presidents. If Lincoln was famous for reading aloud from joke books, Guelzo shows that he also plunged deeply into the mainstream of nineteenth-century liberal democratic thought. Guelzo takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of problems that confronted Lincoln and liberal democracy--equality, opportunity, the rule of law, slavery, freedom, peace, and his legacy. The book sets these problems and Lincoln's responses against the larger world of American and trans-Atlantic liberal democracy in the 19th century, comparing Lincoln not just to Andrew Jackson or John Calhoun, but to British thinkers such as Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham, and John Bright, and to French observers Alexis de Tocqueville and François Guizot. The Lincoln we meet here is an Enlightenment figure who struggled to create a common ground between a people focused on individual rights and a society eager to establish a certain moral, philosophical, and intellectual bedrock. Lincoln insisted that liberal democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. But how to interject that sense of moral order into a system that values personal self-satisfaction--"the pursuit of happiness"--remains a fundamental dilemma even today. Abraham Lincoln was a man who, according to his friend and biographer William Henry Herndon, "lived in the mind." Guelzo paints a marvelous portrait of this Lincoln--Lincoln the man of ideas--providing new insights into one of the giants of American history. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
"American Political History : A Very Short Introduction captures the richness of American political history, focusing primarily on national politics. It explores the nature of the two-party system, key turning points in American political history, representative presidential and congressional elections, struggles to expand the electorate, and critical social protest and third-party movements"--Provided by publisher
Interest in citizenship has never been higher. But what does it mean to be a citizen in a modern, complex community? Richard Bellamy approaches the subject of citizenship from a political perspective and, in clear and accessible language, addresses the complexities behind this highly topical issue.
Tony Wright's Very Short Introduction to British Politics is an interpretative essay on the British political system, rather than an abbreviated textbook on how it currently works. He identifies key characteristics and ideas of the British tradition, and investigates what makes British politics distinctive, while emphasizing throughout how these characteristics are reflected in the way the political system functions. Each chapter is organized around a key theme, such as the constitution or political accountability, which is first established and then explored with examples and illustrations. In this new edition Wright considers how the system has recently changed and continues to do so, in light of the coalition government and the fall of New Labour, as well as the impact of the financial crisis and issues such as terrorism and immigration. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
No one has ever described American democracy with more accurate insight or more profoundly than Alexis de Tocqueville. After meeting with Americans on extensive travels in the United States, and intense study of documents and authorities, he authored the landmark Democracy in America, publishing its two volumes in 1835 and 1840. Ever since, this book has been the best source for every serious attempt to understand America and democracy itself. Yet Tocqueville himself remains a mystery behind the elegance of his style. Now one of our leading authorities on Tocqueville explains him in this splendid new entry in Oxford's acclaimed Very Short Introduction series. Harvey Mansfield addresses his subject as a thinker, clearly and incisively exploring Tocqueville's writings--not only his masterpiece, but also his secret Recollections, intended for posterity alone, and his unfinished work on his native France, The Old Regime and the Revolution. Tocqueville was a liberal, Mansfield writes, but not of the usual sort. The many elements of his life found expression in his thought: his aristocratic ancestry, his ventures in politics, his voyages abroad, his hopes and fears for America, and his disappointment with France. All his writings show a passion for political liberty and insistence on human greatness. Perhaps most important, he saw liberty not in theories, but in the practice of self-government in America. Ever an opponent of abstraction, he offered an analysis that forces us to consider what we actually do in our politics--suggesting that theory itself may be an enemy of freedom. And that, Mansfield writes, makes him a vitally important thinker for today. Translator of an authoritative edition of Democracy in America, Harvey Mansfield here offers the fruit of decades of research and reflection in a clear, insightful, and marvelously compact introduction.
Populism is a central concept in the current media debates about politics and elections. However, like most political buzzwords, the term often floats from one meaning to another, and both social scientists and journalists use it to denote diverse phenomena. What is populism really? Who are the populist leaders? And what is the relationship between populism and democracy? This book answers these questions in a simple and persuasive way, offering a swift guide to populism in theory and practice. Cas Mudde and Cristobal Rovera Kaltwasser present populism as an ideology that divides society into two antagonistic camps, the "pure people" versus the "corrupt elite," and that privileges the general will of the people above all else. They illustrate the practical power of this ideology through a survey of representative populist movements of the modern era: European right-wing parties, left-wing presidents in Latin America, and the Tea Party movement in the United States. The authors delve into the ambivalent personalities of charismatic populist leaders such as Juan Domingo Peron, H. Ross Perot, Jean-Marie le Pen, Silvio Berlusconi, and Hugo Chavez. If the strong male leader embodies the mainstream form of populism, many resolute women, such as Eva Peron, Pauline Hanson, and Sarah Palin, have also succeeded in building a populist status, often by exploiting gendered notions of society. Although populism is ultimately part of democracy, populist movements constitute an increasing challenge to democratic politics. Comparing political trends across different countries, this compelling book debates what the long-term consequences of this challenge could be, as it turns the spotlight on the bewildering effect of populism on today's political and social life. "
"Though the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, its impact on our lives is as recent as today's news. Claims and counterclaims about the constitutionality of governmental actions are a habit of American politics. This document, which its framers designed to limit power, often has made political conflict inevitable. It also has accommodated and legitimized the political and social changes of a vibrant, powerful democratic nation. A product of history's first modern revolution, the Constitution embraced a new formula for government: it restrained power on behalf of liberty, but it also granted power to promote and protect liberty. The U.S. Constitution: A Very Short Introduction explores the major themes that have shaped American constitutional history-- federalism, the balance of powers, property, representation, equality, rights, and security. Informed by the latest scholarship, this book places constitutional history within the context of American political and social history. We do not operate today under the same Constitution created by our founding fathers or the Constitution as completed by the Bill of Rights in 1791 or even the one revised by the Reconstruction amendments. Nor are we the same nation. As our circumstances have changed, so has our Constitution.Today we face serious challenges to the nation's constitutional legacy. Endless wars, a sharply divided electorate and deadlocked government, economic inequality, immigration, cybersecurity and privacy, and foreign interference in the nation's democratic processes, among a host of other issues, have placed demands on government and on society that test our constitutional values. Understanding how the Constitution has evolved will help us adapt its principles to the challenges of our age"--
Michael Freeden explores the concept of liberalism, one of the longest-standing and central political theories and ideologies. Combining a variety of approaches, he distinguishes between liberalism as a political movement, as a system of ideas, and as a series of ethical and philosophical principles.
Generally referring to all forms of social coordination and patterns of rule, the term 'governance' is used in many different contexts. In this Very Short Introduction, Mark Bevir explores the main theories of governance and considers their impact on ideas of governance in the corporate, public, and global arenas.
'This is a fascinating book which sketches, in a very short space, one view of the nature of politics the reader is challenged, provoked and stimulated by Minogue's trenchant views.' -Ian Davies, Talking Politics'a dazzling but unpretentious display of great scholarship and humane reflection.' -Neil O'Sullivan, University of Hull'Professor Minogue's slim volume is an admirably light and sensible guide to political practitioners and students who want to learn more about the theoretical and historical context of today's controversies.' -Sir Philip Goodhart'Kenneth Minogue is a very lively stylist who does not distort difficult ideas.' -Maurice Cranston'Minogue is an admirable choice for showing us the nuts and bolts of the subject.' -Nicholas Lezard, Guardian
The programmes that make up the welfare state vary from nation to nation and from time to time, and the balance between markets and government, and free enterprise and social protection is perennially in question. In contemporary political debate the welfare state seems to be mostly viewed asa problem rather than a solution, and welfare programmes appear constantly on the defensive. ThisVery Short Introduction describes the modern welfare state, explaining its historical and contemporary significance and arguing that far from being 'a failure' or 'a problem', welfare states are an essential element of contemporary capitalism, and a vital concomitant of democratic government.In this accessible and entertaining account, David Garland cuts through the fog of misunderstandings to explain in clear and simple terms, what the welfare state is, how it works, and why it matters.ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, andenthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Introduces major topics in ancient Greek civilization through the development of eleven characteristic city states, ranging from prehistoric Cnossos through Byzantion, and including the future Marseilles as well as Athens and Sparta.
As well as being a remarkable statesman and one of the world's longest-detained political prisoners, Nelson Mandela has become an exemplary figure of non-racialism and democracy, a moral giant. Once a man with an unknown face, he became after his 1994 release one of the most internationally recognizable images of our time. Set within a biographical frame, this Very Short Introduction explores the reasons why his story is so important to us in the world at large today, and what his achievements signify. It shows how our picture of Mandela is a great deal more complicated than the legend suggests: quality of character is combined with his talents as a performer, his maverick ability to absorb transnational influences, his proximity to outstanding colleagues, his steely survival skills, and his postmodern ease with media image. It shows how many different interconnected stories, histories, values, and symbols combine in the famous name Nelson Mandela. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
The concept of law lies at the heart of our social and political life, shaping the character of our community and underlying issues from racism and abortion to human rights and international war. But what actually is law? A set of naturally occurring moral principles, or simply rules agreed by a particular society? What is a 'right' and what rights should people actually have? Is law really colour-blind and gender-blind? Can the law truly tell us whether gay marriages are immoral, what's wrong with racism, or whether we should go to war? Revealing the intriguing and challenging nature of legal philosophy with clarity and enthusiasm, Raymond Wacks explores the notion of law and its role in our lives. Referring to key thinkers from Aristotle to Rawls, Bentham, Dworkin, H.L.A. Hart and Derrida, he looks at the central questions behind legal theory that have fascinated lawyers and philosophers - and anyone - who ever wondered about law's relation to justice, morality, and democracy. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Herodotus has come to be respected by most scholars as a responsible and important historian. Herodotus was both a critical thinker and a lively storyteller, a traveller who was both tourist and anthropologist. Like Homer, he set out to memorialize great deeds in words; more narrowly, he determined to discover the causes of the wars between Greece and Persia and to explain them to his fellow Greeks. In his hands, the Greeks' unforeseeable defeat of the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes, with their vast hosts, made for fascinating storytelling. Influenced by the work of the natural scientists and philosophers of his own and earlier eras, Herodotus also brought his literary talents to bear on a vast, unruly mass of information gathered from many interviews throughout his travels and left behind him the longest work that had ever been written in Greek - the first work of history, and one which continues to be read with enjoyment today. Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction introduces readers to what little is known of Herodotus's life and goes on to discuss all aspects of his work, including his fascination with his origins; his travels; his view of the world in relation to boundaries and their transgressions; and his interest in seeing the world and learning about non-Greek civilizations. We also explore the recurring themes of his work, his beliefs in dreams, oracles, and omens, the prominence of women in his work, and his account of the battles of the Persian Wars. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.