Political Repression: Jason Leopold Of Truthout Reviews Andrew Kolin’s New Book

[CORRECTION: the book is a year old. My mistake; my apologies.]

Leopold’s review, called Occupy the Police State, is worth reading in itself. The book is Andrew Kolin’s “State Power and Democracy: Before and During The Presidency of George W. Bush” (that’s a publisher link; I don’t do Amazon links when I have any alternative), and there’s an excerpt by Kolin on Truthout. Here is the beginning of the excerpt; I quoted as little as I could manage while still retaining the cogency so evident in Kolin’s writing:

The expansion of state power over the course of U.S. history came at the expense of democracy. As state power grew, there developed a disconnect between the theory and practice of democracy in the United States. Ever- greater state power meant it became more and more absolute. This resulted in a government that directed its energies and resources toward silencing those who dared question the state’s authority. Such questioning of state power had emanated as a response to mass- based political movements striving to further democracy with an increase in freedom, especially for the downtrodden. This put mass movements in direct confrontation with the elite politics of policy makers. So, over time, as the U.S. government continued on its course of seeking to increase state power by extending ever- greater control over people and territory, it also meant it worked toward a goal to diminish mass-based political movements. This tendency began not long after the end of the Revolutionary War, starting with the conquest of North America and by the start of the twentieth century, continuing with the expansionism outside of North America.

This confrontation certainly is being exacerbated in the post-Bush era, the democratic side symbolized by the Occupy movement and the repressive side comprising a whole long list of people and institutions in finance, government and the so-called 1% (more accurately, the 0.1%, or even the 0.01%… the forces grow in their oppressive tendencies as the rank by wealth ranges up to the Koch brothers and such). The conflict is very much out in the open now, with the primary combatants (literally) being kneeling or standing or sitting or marching or otherwise intransigent but rarely violent practitioners of civil disobedience on the side of democracy, and small armies fully equipped and armed for combat and calling themselves “police” forces on the side of the oppressors. The more we understand about who’s doing what, and why, the better equipped we will be to participate in the defense of democracy from wherever we stand. Or sit, in the case of cripples like me.

Now I’m off to see if the library has this book, and if not, whether it’s too late to add it to my Holiday gift list (take that, Bill O’Reilly!).

NOTE: HPL does not have the book, or any books by Andrew Kolin. A few years ago, HPL could be relied upon to have political books of various stripes, if they were, say, on the NYT bestseller list; e.g., they have Glenn Greenwald’s early books, and Paul Krugman’s. These days, though, I search in vain for new books of what could be called a liberal flavor. On the other hand, fiction by Tim LaHaye (the creepy “Left Behind” series) is readily available in every branch. Is the change real, or a product of my increasingly paranoid imagination?

NOTE: ouch. The lowest price, used, on Amazon is almost $50. I think I can live without this book, unless I can talk HPL into buying it. HPL is officially allegedly committed to diversity in political books, but who knows what happens in these lean times.

AMENDMENT: (the first, actually): this book is a year old. My apologies for thinking it was new. That makes the prices altogether ridiculous. Have I wasted your time? I hope not, but apologies if I have.

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  • anthony  On Friday December 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

    The book is not a year old. It came out over the summer.

    • Steve  On Friday December 9, 2011 at 11:05 am

      anthony, welcome, and thanks for the attempt to set me straight… with all due respect, maybe it was available to you only over the summer, but the publisher’s official date is December 2010. Click the link in the post to see it on the Macmillan site.

  • Professor Andrew Kolin  On Monday December 12, 2011 at 8:48 am

    A paperback version of State Power and Democracy will appear in 2012. this should make the book more affordable. Professor kolin

    • Steve  On Monday December 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Professor Kolin, welcome, and many thanks for your reply. Yes, most of my new personal library acquisitions are paperback, the economy being what it is today. I am very glad to read that your book will be available in paperback soon. Again, thanks for providing us that information.

  • Frank  On Thursday December 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    As a former student of Professor Andrew Kolin, I would just like to state that I am very proud of his work. I began my undergraduate study at Hilbert College in Business Administration, however, while taking an elective course in political science with Dr. Kolin, I realized how important political science is as a way of life. After taking an additional elective course with Dr. Kolin, I decided to take a second major in Political Science. The dedication and time Dr. Kolin commits to study and examine what is going on within the United States government and the importance of civil rights is commendable. His classes are extremely relevant to today’s society.
    Dr. Kolin always explains from the past to the present so his students can have a better understanding as to how certain activities have come to fruition today. As a young man, I consider myself much more aware of what is going on politically in society, partly due to Professor Andrew Kolin. I have been very much engaged in politics and campaigns in the city of Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs. The knowledge I have acquired on State and Local government, all the way to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Nuremberg Trials, Genocide (the Hutu and the Tutsis), Terrorism, American government, Women’s rights, and the list goes on and on, will remain in my thoughts as I live out my life. Each and every class, I would prepare a list of questions to ask Professor Kolin. I loved to engage him with as many questions as I could think of because he really is a very knowledgable and noteworthy citizen. I could go on talking for a very long time about Dr. Kolin but I will rap things up by stating, “I would strongly recommend reading his books and engaging him personally with any questions you may have relating to his findings. He is very open to criticism and he is willing to stand up for what he believes in. The very best part is that if you are coming from a different political perspective, he is willing to hear what you have to say and will challenge you based on his opinion and knowledge. There are many political analysts and individuals out there that will not be open to listening, but I can guarantee that Dr. Kolin is not one of them. I am honored to have had him as a professor and friend.

    – Frank Castiglia, Class of 11′ HIlbert College

    • Steve  On Thursday December 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Welcome, Frank, and thanks for your comments. That is a strong recommendation for Professor Kolin. I find it not surprising in the least, based on what I’ve read of his works; it’s good to hear that he is also appreciated as a teacher. Both my parents, now deceased, were serious and dedicated teachers, so while I appreciate sound scholarship, I appreciate great teaching even more. Again, thanks for posting.


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