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Civic War and the Corruption of the Citizen [Hardcover]

Peter Alexander Meyers

Price: CDN$ 36.54 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

Dec 15 2008
In this unique book, Peter Alexander Meyers leads us through the social processes by which shock incites terror, terror invites war, war invokes emergency, and emergency supports unchecked power. He then reveals how the domestic political culture created by the Cold War has driven these developments forward since 9/11, contending that our failure to acknowledge that this Cold War continues today is precisely what makes it so dangerous.
With eloquence and urgency Meyers argues that the mantra of our time—“everything changed on 9/11!”—is false and pernicious. By contrast, Civic War and the Corruption of the Citizen provides a novel account of long-term transformations in the citizen’s experience of war, the constitution of political powers, and public uses of communication, and from that firm historical basis explains how a convergence of these social facts became the pretext for unprecedented opportunism and irresponsibility after 9/11. Where others have observed that our rights are under attack, Meyers digs deeper and finds that today “government by the people” itself is at risk.
Sparkling with historical and philosophical insight, this is a dramatic diagnosis of the American political scene that at once makes clear the new position of the citizen and the necessity for active citizenship if democracy is to endure.

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“Just when it seemed as if there was nothing more to say about fear, terror, and emergency after 9/11, this original diagnosis and bracing call for a reassertion of the powers of citizenship offers a restorative work of democratic theory. Assertive and insistent, the eloquence of Civic War and the Corruption of the Citizen compels attention and demands an active response.”

(Ira Katznelson, Columbia University)

“This is among the most important analyses that I’ve seen of what has happened to politics in the wake of the September 11 attacks. No other thinker has so clearly articulated how both terrorism and the response to it threaten democracy by suppressing contentious political speech. Meyers’s argument is timely, impressively learned, and compelling.”

(Craig Calhoun, President of the Social Science Research Council)

“After September 11, 2001, U.S. politicians embraced the rhetoric of war as a substitute for politics. Armed with 2,500 years of the European philosophical tradition, epigrammatic prose, and fiery detachment, Peter Meyers slays the monsters our sleep of reason brought forth. In its brilliant exposition of the duty of the citizen to exercise informed judgment in the collective self-defense, Civic War and the Corruption of the Citizen is a remarkable addition to the literature of civic engagement.”
(John Brady Kiesling, author of Diplomacy Lessons)

"A satisfying explanation of how politics in America since 9/11 fit into the larger political culture of the past half century. . . . Meyers' insights offer a helpful guide to our democratic challenges as we attempt to move beyond the fear-inducing rhetoric and policies of the War on Terror."—Contexts
(Andrew M. Lindner Contexts)

About the Author

Peter Alexander Meyers is professor of American Studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and is presently a visiting researcher in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just starting it Dec 26 2010
By Amanda Peck - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
But it's exciting. Yes of course it is non-fiction, not even a true story as fascinating as fiction. It seems important. I've no idea what I'll think after I'm even half-way into it. But so far....

Written, maybe deliberately, maybe that's just how the author lectures, in a kind of 18th or 19th century way, Citizen is always capitalized, for instance, and I expect that Tom--Paine or Jefferson-- would have few quibbles as to the style.

Some of what has captured me.

Monocracy as the opposite of democracy (and how the idea that our culture was shaped under kings led us to think that democracy was everything--it's not, think tyranny of the majority.

And how "at war" means something quite different for us than, say, for people living in the CSA during the Civil War. We claim the status, but....

"Publicity, not liberty in the abstract, is therefore the essential mode for balancing the powers"

And the longish section on 9-11, that a previous reviewer has mentioned. He says that FEAR comes after SHOCK. I'd never thought of that before, but he could be right. Both can immobilize one, though.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant author Feb. 15 2009
By Lydia Pedroja - Published on
A brilliant and important book with a profound knowledge of history underpinning remarks on the Bush administration and influences on present-day citizens. This book ranges across the disciplines of psychology, political science, sociology, philosophy, literature and yet is well-written for a general, serious-minded audience. His opening description of a reaction to the 9/11 attack is remarkable.

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