Large sections of democracy and its basic structures have recently been hijacked. By stealth, powerful elites have gradually gained control of the political sphere and transformed it to serve their own interests. The political systems of what appear to be established democracies in all corners of the world are showing signs of this takeover, which has led to widespread citizen disaffection and indignation. Kidnapped Democracy uses the metaphor of captivity to illustrate the differences and similarities between conventional kidnappings and the hijacking of a political system. The book’s nine chapters identify the kidnappers, the accomplices, the hostages, the victims and the negotiators before examining the effect of a peculiar Stockholm syndrome and, finally, reflecting on possible ways to secure the release of democracy.
Chapter 1: Raising the Alarm
Chapter 2: The Hostages (I): Political Parties and Governments
Chapter 3: The Hostages (II): The Mass Media
Chapter 4: The Hostages (III): Trade Unions
Chapter 5: Hostages or Accomplices?
Chapter 6: The Kidnappers
Chapter 7: Victims’ Response: From Stockholm Syndrome to Defiance
Chapter 8: Negotiators
Chapter 9: The Struggle for Liberation
About the Author
Ramón A. Feenstra teaches in the Department of Philosophy and Sociology at the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, Spain.
A provocative reflection on the kidnapping of democracy that offers novel insights on debates that have been occupying critical thinkers for centuries, while providing a cogent critique of the state of democracy today. A valuable and original contribution to scholarship.
Democracies are sadly capitulating, with disastrous consequences in terms of democratic accountability, quality of governance and equality. This insightful and beautifully written book must be read as an awakening call, a necessary and timely reminder that the fate of democracy lies with the unfettered determination of citizens to unmask the complex network of 'masters' that are stripping democracy of its representative identity.
Ramón Feenstra takes seriously the kidnap analogy as a conceptual tool with which to dissect the predicament of present-day democracies, engaging provocatively and meticulously with the identity, interests and strategies of both kidnappers and hostages, and the complex relationship between them, which culminates in a predictable and dramatic Stockholm syndrome. For how long will we be complacent, and will we justify the kidnap of our democracies and our lack of say in what happens to us?
This is a wonderful book. Kidnapping is a very strong metaphor to understand the democratic deficits of our time. Moreover, this is the right self-help book for victimized citizens to overcome their Stockholm syndrome and to develop democratizing practices.
To understand the challenges contemporary democracies face and to explore potential solutions addressing redemocratization, Feenstra uses the metaphor of kidnapping. The result is a very timely and provocative reflection looking at the present and to the future. A must read and discuss.
Kidnapped Democracy is what the democratic imagination so badly needs in this troubling period: a daring re-description of the damage that is being done to the spirit and institutions of democracy in more than a few countries, by a young European scholar whose work deserves global recognition.
Ramón Feenstra's book is an essay in which the best features of the genre stand out: agile, aggressive and well written, and located at the crossroads between cultured journalism, high-level political dissemination and political philosophy. This work proposes the original idea of an “institutional kidnapping” of democratic institutions, reviewing the actors involved, both those who contribute to the kidnapping and those who could oppose it.
In this engaging book, Feenstra shows how economic and other interests have kidnapped representative democracy, which is neither representative nor democratic today, and no longer belongs to the people. As he rightly argues, we need to liberate democracy through new forms of mass participation and progressive government.
In this highly original and thought-provoking book, Feenstra offers an innovative approach to the contemporary debate surrounding the future of democracy: his systematic dissection of the metaphor that democracy has been kidnapped results in a novel analysis of democracy’s problems and prospects. The book will appeal to both normative and empirical scholars of democracy as well as to committed citizens.
Feenstra evidences the kidnapping of democracy, providing data and arguments that demonstrate the broad corporate capture of governments, political parties, mass-media and trade unions. A relevant book to understand who manages the threads of politics and economy in our countries and how they have succeeded in kidnapping democracy.
Feenstra draws up a powerful metaphor - that of kidnapping - to explain the situation of democracy today. He analyzes in detail the main actors involved in kidnapping, their relationships and dynamics. This is achieved by joining the best tradition of polemicists, constructing an exciting plot that makes us question the main political and social problems of our time.