Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What I'm Reading: The Great Suppression

This is another freebie from NetGalley, which has been my greatest source of non-fiction recently. So much good stuff coming out!

The Great Suppression is depressing as hell and while I think every American should care about the state of democracy in their own country, I get that lots of people are just not interested in politics, whether because they're largely unaffected by politics, or whether they've given up on a system that doesn't seem to care about them. But calling things "just politics" is I think a misnomer. Nothing is just politics; policy decisions that are made to appeal to certain groups of voters have real life consequences for actual people. Chances are pretty good that one day one of those policy decisions will apply to you. "First they came for the Communists...." and so on.

I think this is an excellent companion to Democracy in Black and that if you read one you should really read the other. In particular, I think The Great Suppression acts as a reply to Glaude's vision of a "what if we just stopped voting" protest. When you see to the extent to which certain groups are taking things just to keep direct democracy out of the American political process (usually to the benefit of an elite group of large corporation owners), it becomes clear how naive a "blank out" would be as a protest measure. At the same time, it's important to understand just how much of the suppression and disenfranchisement Roth describes is explicitly based on race, whether today or two hundred years ago.

The one complaint I have about the book is that it is maybe too dense. This could be a problem of reading it on ebook (or maybe I'm just not that smart!), but I had to go back and re-read certain passages to understand what, exactly, had just happened. It's definitely not beach reading, that's for sure.

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