Civic War & the Corruption of the Citizen

Civic War & the Corruption of the Citizen

Peter Alexander Meyers

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226522081

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book leads us through the social processes by which shock incites terror, terror invites war, war invokes emergency, and emergency supports unchecked power. It then reveals how the domestic political culture created by the Cold War has driven these developments forward since 9/11, contending that our failure to acknowledge that this Cold War continues today is precisely what makes it so dangerous. The author argues that the mantra of our time—“everything changed on 9/11!”—is false and pernicious. By contrast, this book provides an account of long-term transformations in the citizen's experience of war, the constitution of political powers, and public uses of communication, and from that historical basis explains how a convergence of these social facts became the pretext for unprecedented opportunism and irresponsibility after 9/11. Where others have observed that our rights are under attack, the author digs deeper and finds that, today, “government by the people” itself is at risk. With historical and philosophical insight, this is a diagnosis of the American political scene that at once makes clear the new position of the citizen and the necessity for active citizenship if democracy is to endure.