One of the odd consequences of the global financial crisis — an instance of massive market failure — has been a boom in literature about the defects of contemporary democracy. I’ve recently written reviews of several books in this genre. In the new issue of Foreign Affairs, the distinguished political scientist Francis Fukuyama joins in the fray. America, says Fukuyama, is in the process of “political decay.” Certainly, this is not the best of times for American democracy. But there are five reasons why we should take Fukuyama’s assessment with a grain of salt. Read more
I’ll be delivering the Lee Lecture at All Souls College, Oxford, on February 26, 2015. The Lecture is supported by Dr. Seng Tee Lee FBA through an endowment for an annual lecture in Political Science and Government. The 2014 Lee Lecture was delivered by Professor Nancy Rosenblum of Harvard University.
I’ll be delivering a keynote address at the Accountability Network‘s international seminar on the design of public policies for accountability and corruption control in Mexico City on October 21, 2014. I’ll also be giving talks at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE) on October 22-23.
Review of The Confidence Trap by David Runciman. Forthcoming in Acta Politica. “The title suggests a critique of the world’s established democracies . . . On close inspection, though, Runciman’s apprehensions prove to be overstated — and what is left is a muted but still positive appraisal of democratic governance.” Read the draft on SSRN.
Review of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein. Forthcoming in Public Administration Review. “Mann and Ornstein have some practical suggestions on how to make Washington work better. But the remedies may be unequal to the underlying problem: a profound shift in the structure of American politics, and attitudes about the role of the federal government in American life.” Read the draft on SSRN.
Review of Breaking Democracy’s Spell by John Dunn. Forthcoming in Governance. “We have been naroticized by our faith in the power of democratic processes, Dunn says, and as a result we are neglecting existential threats. But is the alarm about democracy justified — and if so, how are we supposed to respond to it? On both questions, Breaking Democracy’s Spell may leave readers unsatisfied.” Read the draft on SSRN.
Review of The Fourth Revolution by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Forthcoming in Public Administration. “The main effect of The Fourth Revolution is to show how stale the conservative rhetoric about reform has become.” Read the draft on SSRN.
My review of The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar has just been published on Early View for Public Administration Review. I focus on the way in which this technological shock shaped American government. “The current fashion is to emphasize the ways in which ideology and institutional inertia constrain the governmental response to such shocks. But Wolmar tells a different story. In the long run, The Great Railroad Revolution suggests, the governmental response to this innovation was pragmatic, hard-headed, and flexible.” A draft of the review is also posted on SSRN.
I’ll be participating in a NASPAA/APPAM panel on “the evolving relationship between political science and public administration” in Albuquerque, NM on November 6. The panel will be chaired by Steven Rathgeb Smith, APSA Executive Director. More details here.
I participated on a panel on “national security surveillance after Snowden” at the ABA annual meeting in Boston on June 8. The panel was organized by the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security. Learn more about the panel. Here is an ABA write-up of the session. I drew mainly on the background notes for my talks on transparency in New Zealand and Australia in May.
The Fall 2014 issue of n+1 magazine includes a review essay by Jamie Martin discussing The End of Protest and The Logic of Discipline. “The 2008 crash and its aftermath have amounted, as the legal scholar Alasdair Roberts argues in The End of Protest, to little more than a ‘quiet crisis.'” Read the review.