Many people think of the United States as a nation with two regional or sub-national entities — the North and the South. The two sub-nations have identifiable differences in outlook. The South, a traditionally rural and agricultural region, has always been perceived to have a relatively conservative and individualistic outlook, oriented toward small government and states rights. The North, dominated by urbanized commercial centers, has always been relatively more aligned with big government agendas, a natural characteristic of densely populated areas where most people’s livelihoods are derived from industry and commerce.
The geographical, political, and cultural divides between the North and South have been fairly well defined by the “Mason-Dixon Line” — approximately the line of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers . Indeed states like Kentucky and Maryland are called “Border States” as if they were on an international frontier. And of course a military frontier DID materialize between the North and South when the Southern sub-nation attempted to assert its sovereignty during the Civil War.
This great divide between the Northern and Southern sub-nations continues to this day. I’ve read commentaries from foreigners who explain the politics of the United States as consisting of a struggle for dominance between the Northern and Southern sub-nations. We Americans refer to this as the “Red State / Blue State” divide. So the idea of the USA consisting of two sub-nations is well established.
The question this book addresses is whether it makes sense to subdivide the United States into MORE THAN TWO subnational entities. Others have asked this question before. Joel Garreau wrote about it in 1981 in his book THE NINE NATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA. I read NINE NATIONS then and concluded that it was partially valid in an economic sense, i.e. relatively more Westerners earn their livelihoods from mining, relatively more people on the Great Plains earn their living from growing wheat and corn and livestock, and relatively more Northerners earn their living from Industry. So from that perspective there are arguably nine economic nations in North America. But Garreau did not convince me that there are more than two political sub-nations inside the USA.
Of the many books I’ve read or skimmed in the past seven years that attempted to get inside the social and political debacles of the present, none has had the chilling clarity and historical discernment of Sheldon S. Wolin’s Democracy Incorporated. Building on his fifty years as a political theorist and proponent of radical democracy, Wolin here extends his concern with the extinguishing of the political and its replacement by fraudulent simulations of democratic process. — Jonathan Crary, Artforum
4.0 out of 5 stars Managed Democracy, Superpower, and alas, even, “Inverted Totalitarianism”, June 17, 2008
This is a seminal work which “tells it like it is” concerning the current power arrangements in the American political system, as well as the political leadership’s aspirations towards global empire. Prof. Wolin sets the tone of his work on page 1, with the juxtaposition of the imagery of Adolph Hitler landing in a small plane at the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, as shown in Leni Reifenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will,” and George Bush landing on the aircraft carrier “Abraham Lincoln” in 2003. Certainly one of the dominant themes of the book is comparing the operating power structure in the United States with various totalitarian regimes of the past: Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Prof Wolin emphasizes the differences between these totalitarian powers, and the softer concentration of power in the United States, which he dubs “inverted totalitarianism.”
Activist, philosopher, teacher, and leading voice of uncompromising dissent, DERRICK JENSEN holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. In 2008, he was named one of the Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World,” and in 2006 he was named Press Action’s Person of the Year for his work on the book Endgame. He lives in California.
LIERRE KEITH is a writer, small farmer, and radical feminist activist. She is the author of two novels, as well The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, which has been called “the most important ecological book of this generation.” She’s also been arrested six times. She lives in Humboldt County, CA.
5.0 out of 5 stars finally, a book to meet the scale of our predicament,June 7, 2011
This is a very reasonably priced workbook that can also be purchased in bulk (presumably at the standard 50% discount) from the publisher, and I certainly do recommend it as a toolkit for any level–undergraduate to postgraduate to professional–discussion about how to apply holistic analytics to complex problem sets.I rate it as a five for its intended purpose, but absent references to other critical supplements that I link to below, it is a four by which I mean it cannot comprise the sole text for teaching. As an endeavor in systemic thinking and a new tool for teaching systemic thinking, it is a six.Although I am generally hostile to software as a panacea that obscures more than it illuminates (especially if the assumptions buried in the code are flawed), I give the authors the benefit of the doubt, and would seek to integrate their endeavor with those of Medard Gabel, the State of the Future project, and other emerging efforts to create functional hybrid networked governance systems.Ambassador John McDonald provides the foreword, and I pull two quotes from him:QUOTE (vii): The theories are not particularly useful to develop predictive models.
QUOTE (viii): This is the book to prepare for the messy multi-layered, multi-faceted, personal, political real world of applied activism.