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A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil…

A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Democracy Strong

by Benjamin R. Barber

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0809076578, Hardcover)

Although Democrats and Republicans alike have adopted anti-"big government" rhetoric, Benjamin Barber writes, "being against government does not necessarily produce a program on behalf of civil society." In fact, in a strong democracy, the two are inseparable: "Government is civil society's common arm, just as civil society is government's animating body." Barber champions the strong democratic tradition over libertarian models, which eliminate government influence in favor of unfettered markets (which, he argues, teach people to say "I want" rather than "we need") and communitarian models, which enforce conformity.

A Place for Us is a slim volume, but it contains a number of useful suggestions for maintaining a civil society that also preserves democratic ideals. Among those suggestions--the development of digital broadcast frequencies for civic use, the creation of more civic space on the Internet and World Wide Web, increased funding of the arts and humanities, and encouragement of increased civic responsibility on the part of corporations--which includes everything from nonexploitative labor practices to commitments to acknowledge uncommercialized public spaces. Barber has produced a book that can be read in about two hours, but should inform the thoughts of civic leaders for years. --Ron Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:44 -0400)

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