Democracy matters by Cornel West


Known for his stance on American imperialism and fundamentalism, West uses his position as a writer, speaker, and historian to tackle the issues the country faces. America is said to be the greatest economy in the world. This is credited to the level of influence the country holds in terms of international affairs. America is a relatively young country compared to other countries. The county is formed from a number of different communities due to the immense amount of immigration during its formation. The country is recorded to have the highest rate of growth brought about by a number of factors. There are several theories as to why the country continues to lead as a superpower. These theories have both negative and positive aspects. “Democracy matters” is a reflection of the principles and ideologies the country uses to govern its nationals. It is thus essential to look at the history of the nation from the time of its inception to the present day. West brings this out through his analysis of the foundation of the country and its adaptation of democracy.


The focus of this paper is to offer a critical review of a selected book. The book, in this case, is Cornel West’s Democracy Matters. The paper provides a personal interpretation of the content of the book. This is done by using the aspect of critical thinking so as to determine the view of the author from a personal opinion. The paper further provides quotes so as to give credit to the argument provided. The paper finally provides a conclusion that seeks to summarize the contents of the entire paper.

Democracy Matters is one of the latest editions of Cornel West’s rendition of books. This book acts as a sequel to his critically acclaimed Race Matters. It is essential to note that the author uses his experience in the country to showcase the situation of the ordinary man. The main theme of the book talks on American imperialism and its effect of the country as a whole. West makes this known through the subtitle “The Fight Against Imperialism”. Imperialism is the adaptation of superiority in regard to a countries ideologies, principals and culture.  America is known as the melting point of the world. This is credited to the variety of social communities that make up the country. The county is classified under nations that are formed as a result of immigration of white settlers. This is also one of the elements that define the country as an imperialist state. The United States prides itself on the fact that is one of the nations that spearheaded the adaptation of democracy. Democracy entails the principles that support a free state in regard to all aspects of life. Imperialism, on the other hand, fights against the principles of democracy in that it concentrates on imposing ideologies on its people. The fact that the country is democratic makes it difficult to associate it with imperialism. The author not only reinforces his stance but provides more information that argues that the country is indeed one of the most imperialist nations.

“It is found most urgently and poignantly in the prophetic and powerful voices of the long black freedom struggle—from the democratic eloquence of Frederick Douglass to the soaring civic sermons of Martin Luther King Jr., in the wrenching artistic honesty of James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, and in the expressive force and improvisatory genius of the blues/jazz tradition, all forged in the night side of America and defying the demeaning strictures of white supremacy”.

The book offers different explanations that support the thesis of the author. This is done by providing different examples that have made an impact in and outside the country. One of the areas that West places emphasis on is on the supremacy of the elite in the country. The country has several races that call the United States their home. This factor is, however, one of the issues that pose to define the country. The majority population is made up of the Caucasian race that is derived from a number of immigrants. The race accounts for the highest population in the country making them have a high amount of influence in all aspects of the country management. One of the issues that arise from different races is the supremacy of particular races. White supremacy is attributed for its attack on other races that do not possess the qualities of the white race. One of the areas that display the evils of this system is the importation of slaves from Africa into the country. The author uses this as an example for the countries imperialist nature. One of the darkest times in the country’s history is its involvement in the slave trade. This involved using slaves to cultivate the farms so as to maximize the profit at the time.

“In our market-driven empire, elite salesmanship to the demos has taken the place of genuine democratic leadership”.

The author does not shy away from the fact that this form of racism has created other forms of oppression. The United States is a capitalist state in that it allows an individual to maximize its profits. This system is meant to create a competitive nature that increases the rate of development of the economy. This system has however created the divide between different social classes due to the different level of economic strength. The country is known for its stance on equity and equality amongst the citizens. The current situation offers a contradictive scenario in that some of the communities have been left marginalized at the hands of the more influential in society. This, as a result, gives rise to a new form of imperialism that seeks to separate the have from the have not’s. The author ensures that the book is reflective of the situation in and outside the country. As stated earlier, the country is known for its stance on all things democratic. It thus makes it a priority to influence other countries on their ideologies so as to create a democratic world. Globalization is a key aspect of the theme of the book.

“The second prevailing dogma of our time is aggressive militarism, of which the new policy of preemptive strike against potential enemies is but an extension”.

The book explains the impact on globalization in the countries relation with its neighbors. West offers his take on present issues such as terrorism in the Middle East. America has clearly stated its position on the fight against terrorist activities in terrorist affiliated countries. All the leaders of the United States thus have a duty to secure the countries intention of monitoring the safety of the entire globe.

The title of the book clearly states that democracy is essential in any part of the world. The countries choice to act as guardians of peace has been met with both positive and negative views. It is significant to note that the United States administers for equality amongst countries. The fact that the country has a significant amount of influence in the business of other countries displays the hypocrisy that the country holds. The book talks of the use of the army to monitor activities in the Middle Eastern countries. The events in the previous years expose the United States in reference to their interference with Middle Eastern politics. West explains the imperialism the United States displays through creating policies that give the country an upper hand in international matters. The book thus acts as a form of criticism of the United States government which claims to be democratic.

“The rise of an ugly imperialism has been aided by an unholy alliance of the plutocratic elites and the Christian Right, and also by a massive disaffection of so many voters who see too little difference between two corrupted parties, with blacks being taken for granted by the Democrats, and with the deep disaffection of youth”.

Politics is one of the subjects that feature in the content of the book. The country is divided into political parties that define the country as a democracy. The author looks at the position of each political party and their role in the provision of democracy. Democracy entails the ability to express oneself concerning different matters in the country. The country is known for its strong stance on democracy. This principle is not reflective in the country due to the immense level of oppression that the society experiences.

In conclusion, the author offers strong opinions regarding different democratic matters. This is ideal for understanding the role of the United States in the fight for democracy.  Like any other book, the book provides a number of criticisms that state the stance of the author. This, in turn, educates the reader on true democracy in the eyes of the author.



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