Book Political Illusion

The Political Illusion
by Jacques Ellul

"What is politization? . . . (It is that) all problems have, in our time, become political." –J. Ellul, from the Introduction

Jacques Ellul, the author of The Technological Society and Propaganda, here examines modern man’s passion for politics, the roles he plays in them, and his place in the modern state. He holds that everything having now been "politized," anything not directly political fails to arouse widespread interest among contemporary men–and in fact might be said not to exist. He shows that political activity is now a kaleidoscope of interlocking illusions, among which the most basic and damaging are those of popular participation in government, popular control of elected and other officials, and popular solution of public problems. This domination by the political illusion, Ellul demonstrates, explains why men now turn to the state for the solution of all problems–most of them problems that the state could not solve if it tried.
This close-reasoned, brilliant diagnosis and prognosis is, like Jacques Ellul’s earlier books, an alarming analysis of present-day life.


News
by W. Lance Bennett

For over thirty years, News: The Politics of Illusion has not simply reflected the political communication field—it has played a major role in shaping it. Today, the familiar news organizations of the legacy press are operating in a fragmenting and expanding mediaverse that resembles a big bang of proliferating online competitors that are challenging the very definition of news itself. Audience-powered sites such as the Huffington Post and Vox blend conventional political reporting with opinion blogs, celebrity gossip, and other ephemera aimed at getting clicks and shares. At the same time, the rise of serious investigative organizations such as ProPublica presents yet a different challenge to legacy journalism. Lance Bennett’s thoroughly revised tenth edition offers the most up-to-date guide to understanding how and why the media and news landscapes are being transformed. It explains the mix of old and new, and points to possible outcomes. Where areas of change are clearly established, key concepts from earlier editions have been revised. There are new case studies, updates on old favorites, and insightful analyses of how the new media system and novel kinds of information and engagement are affecting our politics. As always, News presents fresh evidence and arguments that invite new ways of thinking about the political information system and its place in democracy.

History and Illusion in Politics
by Raymond Geuss, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge Raymond Geuss

In his new book, distinguished political philosopher Raymond Geuss critically examines some of the most widely held and important preconceptions about contemporary politics western societies: the state, authority, violence and coercion, the concept of legitimacy, liberalism, toleration, freedom, democracy, and human rights. Geuss argues that the liberal democratic state committed to the defense of human rights is in fact a confused conjunction of disparate elements. One of his most striking claims is that it makes sense to speak of rights only relative to a mechanism for enforcing them, and that therefore the whole concept of a “human right” as it is commonly used in contemporary political philosophy, is a confusion. A profound and concise essay on the basic structure of contemporary politics, History and Illusion in Politics is written in a voice that is skeptical, engaged, and clear. Raymond Geuss is University Lecturer, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. Educated in the United States and Germany, he has held academic posts at Heidelberg, the University of Chicago and Princeton University. He is the editor of Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy (Cambridge, 1999) and the author of Public Goods, Private Goods (Princeton, 2001). He is a frequent commentator on BBC Radio Three and World Service.

Hopeless
by Jeffrey St. Clair, Joshua Frank

“Those who feel that like lemmings they are being led over a cliff would be well-advised not to read this book. They may discover that they are right.”—Noam Chomsky

“Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank have skillfully smoked out the real Barack Obama . . . the technofascist military strategist disguised as a Nobel Peace Laureate, but owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Pentagon.”—Thomas H. Naylor, co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA

“The writers assembled here hit hard, with accuracy, and do not pull punches.”—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

The Barack Obama revolution was over before it started, guttered by the politician’s overweening desire to prove himself to the grandees of the establishment. From there on, other promises proved ever easier to break. Here’s the book that dares not let Obama off the hook. It’s all here: the compromises, the backstabbing, the same old imperial ambitions. Covering all major “Obummer” categories since he took office, this fast-paced collection will delight the critical and offer food for thought for those contemplating the 2012 electoral circus—and beyond.

Jeffrey St. Clair is co-editor of CounterPunch, author of Born Under a Bad Sky and Been Brown So Long it Looked Green to Me, and co-author of Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press.

Joshua Frank is an environmental journalist and co-editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland. His investigative reports and columns appear in CounterPunch, Chicago Sun-Times, Common Dreams, and AlterNet.


Political Illusion and Reality
by David W. Gill, David Lovekin

Are all governments—east and west, Muslim and secular, authoritarian and constitutional, Republican and Democratic—fundamentally the same, all of them under the extraordinary, growing power of “technique” and bureaucracy? Is all politics, then, just an illusory affair of lies, deception, propaganda, partisan passions, and chaos on the surface of government and party? In his vast and penetrating writings, Bordeaux sociologist Jacques Ellul (1912–1994) points in those directions.

Political Illusion and Reality is a collection of twenty-three essays on Ellul’s political thought. Veteran as well as younger Ellul scholars, political leaders, activists, and pastors, discuss aspects of Ellul’s thought as they relate to their own fields of study and political experience. Beginning with his 1936 essay “Fascism, Son of Liberalism,” translated and published here in English for the first time, Ellul and these authors will provoke readers to think some new thoughts about politics and government, and think more deeply about the main issues we face in our politically divided and troubled times.


The Illusion of Freedom and Equality
by Richard Stivers

Explores how Enlightenment values have been transformed in a technological civilization.

Empire of Illusion
by Chris Hedges

Pulitzer prize–winner Chris Hedges charts the dramatic and disturbing rise of a post-literate society that craves fantasy, ecstasy and illusion.

Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this “other society,” serious film and theatre, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins.

In the tradition of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Hedges navigates this culture — attending WWF contests as well as Ivy League graduation ceremonies — exposing an age of terrifying decline and heightened self-delusion.


The Future of Illusion
by Victoria Kahn

In recent years, the rise of fundamentalism and a related turn to religion in the humanities have led to a powerful resurgence of interest in the problem of political theology. In a critique of this contemporary fascination with the theological underpinnings of modern politics, Victoria Kahn proposes a return to secularism—whose origins she locates in the art, literature, and political theory of the early modern period—and argues in defense of literature and art as a force for secular liberal culture.

Kahn draws on theorists such as Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Walter Benjamin, and Hannah Arendt and their readings of Shakespeare, Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Spinoza to illustrate that the dialogue between these modern and early modern figures can help us rethink the contemporary problem of political theology. Twentieth-century critics, she shows, saw the early modern period as a break from the older form of political theology that entailed the theological legitimization of the state. Rather, the period signaled a new emphasis on a secular notion of human agency and a new preoccupation with the ways art and fiction intersected the terrain of religion.


Understanding the F-Word
by David McGowan

By offering a radical review of the last one hundred years of US history, this work is intended as a counterpoint to the rampant revisionism of the flurry of books glorifying the “American Century”. Beginning with the rather bold and decidedly controversial assertion that the current political system in place in the United States at the dawn of the twenty-first century is fascism, the first part of this book attempts to justify that claim by first defining exactly what fascism iscorrecting various widely-held misconceptionsand then analyzing how closely we as a nation conform to that definition. Also included is a review of some of the hidden history and key events of World War II.

Part II offers a retrospective of the twentieth century American presidential administrations, to demonstrate that the steady and inexorable march towards overt fascism was a defining characteristic that remained unchanged. The final section looks at the still very much alive eugenics movement, and analyzes the role played by the psychiatric establishment in validating the fascist state. This book will surely find no shortage of detractors, but if read with an open mind, it just may change the way you view the world.


Grand Illusion
by Theresa A. Amato

As the national campaign manager for Ralph Nader’s historic runs for president in 2000 and 2004, Theresa Amato had a rare ringside role in two of the most hotly contested presidential elections this country has seen. In Grand Illusion, she gives us a witty, thoughtful critique of the American electoral system, as well as a powerful argument for opening up the contest to competition.

Busting the national myth that “anyone can grow up and be President of the United States,” Amato shows how independent and third-party candidates face egregious structural barriers that prevent them from fully participating in the race or even getting their names on the ballot. In addition to waging effective voter campaigns, these candidates must simultaneously fend off preposterous numbers of legal challenges from the two major parties–during twelve weeks of Nader’s ’04 run, as many as twenty-five lawsuits were filed in an effort to squash his campaign.

Amato makes a powerful case for specific federal reforms in the United States’ arcane system of ballot access laws, complex regulations, and partisan control of elections. Along the way, she also offers a spirited history of how third-party and Independent candidates have kept important issues on the table in elections past and contribute to our political life as a society.

Despite the dramatic run-up to the historic 2008 election and the efforts of both Obama and McCain to set themselves apart, the national political debate occurs in a very narrow range that’s defined by two major parties, which are both influenced by the same corporations, special interest groups, and lobbyists. And on election day, there just aren’t the kinds of genuine options that a healthy, multi-party democracy should offer. Looking beyond the Nader story to campaigns waged by challengers John Anderson, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and others, Amato shows how limiting ourselves to two candidates deprives our country of a robust political life, strips would-be contenders of their First Amendment rights, and cheats voters out of meaningful political choice.



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