THE REASON FOR DEMOCRACY by Kalman H. Silvert

THE REASON FOR DEMOCRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This slight book is a self-styled polemic in defense of democracy. Silvert sees opponents on all sides--left, right, and center--but his principal antagonists are the so-called ""new conservatives"" (i.e., Daniel Bell, Samuel Huntington, et al., represented in the Fall 1975 issue of The Public Interest). One of the difficulties with a polemic is that the participants rarely rise above the level of their opposition. This is the case here. Like his adversaries, Silvert substitutes rhetoric for reasoned argument and methodical critique. The author believes that all the problems of contemporary America are not evidence of the failure of democracy (in the traditional sense of the term), as the ""new conservatives"" argue. Instead, Silvert attributes imperialism, racism, the erosion of institutions, and other ills to the waning of the democratic spirit, and calls for a reawakening of that spirit and a new democratic ethic. The book never goes beyond these vague assertions, and is totally lacking in organization or conceptual unity. The author explicitly rejects any analysis or critique of institutions, and as a critique of ideology the book is woefully inadequate (the discussion of Utilitarianism, which claims a large part of the book, is particularly poor). The result is a very shallow work. One may sympathize with Silvert's intentions, but the democratic cause is ill-served by this unfortunate essay.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1977
Publisher: Viking