In his new book, Democracy as Problem Solving: Civic Capacity in Communities Across the Globe (2008: MIT Press), Xavier de Souza Briggs shows how civic capacity—the capacity to create and sustain smart collective action—is crucial for strengthening governance and changing the state of the world in the process.
Analyzing emerging practices of collaboration in planning and public policy to overcome the challenges complexity, fragmentation and uncertainty, the authors present a new theory of collaborative rationality, to help make sense of the new practices. They enquire in detail into how collaborative rationality works, the theories that inform it, and the potential and pitfalls for democracy in the twenty-first century. Representing the authors’ collective experience based upon over thirty years of research and practice, this is insightful reading for students, educators, scholars, and reflective practitioners in the fields of urban planning, public policy, political science and public administration.
Some blame the violence and unrest in the Muslim world on Islam itself, arguing that the religion and its history is inherently bloody. Others blame the United States, arguing that American attempts to spread democracy by force have destabilized the region, and that these efforts are somehow radical or unique. Challenging these views, The Clash of Ideas in World Politics: Transnational Networks, States, and Regime Change, 1510-2010 reveals how the Muslim world is in the throes of an ideological struggle that extends far beyond the Middle East, and how struggles like it have been a recurring feature of international relations since the dawn of the modern European state. John Owen examines more than two hundred cases of forcible regime promotion over the past five centuries, offering the first systematic study of this common state practice. He looks at conflicts between Catholicism and Protestantism between 1520 and the 1680s; republicanism and monarchy between 1770 and 1850; and communism, fascism, and liberal democracy from 1917 until the late 1980s. He shows how regime promotion can follow regime unrest in the eventual target state or a war involving a great power, and how this can provoke elites across states to polarize according to ideology. Owen traces how conflicts arise and ultimately fade as one ideology wins favor with more elites in more countries, and he demonstrates how the struggle between secularism and Islamism in Muslim countries today reflects broader transnational trends in world history.