Challenging Power: Democracy and Accountability in a Fractured World
Arguing that we only have democracy when systems of power are held to account, Cynthia Kaufman examines the real work being done to challenge the operations of power that underlie four unruly social problems: climate change, sweatshop labor, police abuse, and economic deprivation. In Challenging Power, she pairs each of these issues with an operation of power–the large scale influence of multinational corporations; the power of governments; the authority of financial markets; and the control inherent in systems of meaning — and using case studies like the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh and the killing of Eric Garner, forcefully demonstrates what is involved in challenging these operations of power.
Advancing a positive message, she maintains that these networks are not omnipotent and can be challenged if we develop ‘mechanisms of accountability’ which allow us to conceptualize the nature of these problems and the actions required to resist them. Kaufman provides then, a model for ethical action that allows us to investigate and appreciate our own connections to the powerful forces that control our world.
Cynthia Kaufman is the Director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action at De Anza College in San Francisco, where she also teaches philosophy. She is the author of Getting Past Capitalism, Ideas for Action and Challenging Power. A scholar/activist she works on tenants’ rights, police abuse, union organizing, international politics, and climate change