Books by James A. Morone

Released: Nov. 28, 1990

Here, Morone (Pol. Sci./Brown) offers a stimulating if ironic view of the role of the democratic myth in creating our unwieldy and bureaucracy-laden state. A democracy is a government by the people, or so we Americans generally believe; this "democratic wish," Morone says, has led to an enduring dread of public power and a yearning for communal, self-governing entities. In an effort to reconcile these conflicting forces, Americans, he points out, regularly respond to calls to empower the people and limit government—via the American Revolution, the progressive movement, the civil rights movement, etc. The result is that once the under-represented "people" (colonists, minorities, etc.) are awarded an official place in the government structure, the illusive sense of unity through which they gained power dissolves and divisive issues sap away the new group's strength. What are left are bureaucratic institutions firmly implanted within the state in which the "voice of the people" is rarely heard and their original needs remain largely unmet. A history of such movements has steadily enlarged our government's bureacracy, creating precisely the "big government" we most hoped to avoid. The fault, claims Morone, lies with the myth of the "people," which only temporarily unites and empowers citizens who will not permanently share sufficient interests, and with a participatory yearning "innocent of organizational dynamics." The challenge is to "infuse our institutions with broad, workable forms of popular participation. . .linking [the populus] directly to the institutions that govern the political economy." A fresh and lively analysis, and a solid departure point for those who seek future political remedies. Read full book review >