Search results: democracy
Of the immense legal literature on US democracy and the role of the American Supreme Court this is the one book that has most profoundly affected my understanding of the rule of law, and of the role of the judges in compensating for the failures of democracy. Democracy is defined by majoritarianism – you win the majority of the vote and you rule. But there are minorities who don’t have the means to counter the rule of the majority by definition, because they are a minority and don’t have enough votes. This judicial counter-majoritarianism started under Chief Justice Earl Warren, for whom Ely clerked, when the Supreme Court ruled to end bus and school segregation in 1954, sparking the Civil Rights movement which eventually led to Barack Obama becoming president.
Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan feminist and produced one of the first books on feminism within an Arab Middle East and in a Muslim context. She also wrote a pioneering book-length text of Islamic feminism. In Islam and Democracy Mernissi is taking up Islamic arguments for claiming full citizenship, democracy, equality and justice. Mernissi is bringing together secular and religious arguments, and among the things she gives importance to is the need to reform Muslim personal status law as part of achieving democracy.
What is so fascinating about this book is that it is an analysis of what happened in terms of women’s activism during one of the most repressive political regimes in Latin America in the 60s, 70s and 80s. You have the paradox of the emergence of a very progressive women’s movement that mobilised tens of thousands of women and really transformed the agenda of all the major political parties.
Ancient Greece’s legacy can be seen all around us, including in our political system — but many of us don’t know that much about it. Fortunately, we have someone who has devoted his life to studying this remote time and place to give us a reading list. Chris Pelling, Emeritus Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, recommends his top five books on Ancient Greece.
It’s not the first period in history that American society has suffered from a crisis of inequality. Former labour secretary, Robert Reich, recommends books to help us understand the response of previous generations to the same kinds of challenges we now face.
The historian and gender studies specialist Margot Badran has devoted her life's work to the Muslim world. Here she explains what feminism means in the context of Islam and chooses five books that have been critical in its evolution.
Kellee Tsai’s book looks at the curious fact that while an affluent class of private entrepreneurs and business people has arisen in China as a result of economic reform, the new Chinese bourgeoisie has displayed no real interest in Western-style democracy. And this in turn appears to violate one of the most sacred canons of the classical theory of modernisation – that the emergence of an affluent, self-confident urban commercial and industrial bourgeoisie comprises a potent force for democratisation.