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Cynthia Kaufman

July 21, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

discussing the subject of her new book

Challenging Power: Democracy and Accountability in a Fractured World

published by Bloomsbury Books

This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


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Event is free, but reservations are required


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Arguing that we only have democracy when systems of power are held to account, Kaufman examines the real work being done to challenge the operations of power that underlie four unruly social problems: climate change, sweatshop labour, police abuse, and economic deprivation.

In Accountability Democracy, Kaufman pairs each of these issues with an operation of power — the large scale influence of multinational corporations; the power of governments; the authority of financial markets; and the control inherent in systems of meaning — and using case studies like the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh and the killing of Eric Garner, forcefully demonstrates the difficulty in challenging this nexus of power.

Yet, advancing a positive message, Kaufman maintains that this network is not omnipotent and can be questioned if we develop ‘mechanisms of accountability’ which allow us to conceptualise the nature of these restrictions and the action required to resist them. Kaufman provides then, a model for ethical living that allows us to investigate and appreciate our own connection to the powerful forces that control our world.

Cynthia Kaufman is the Director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action at De Anza College, USA, where she also teaches Philosophy. She is the author of two books on social change Getting Past Capitalism: HistoryVision, Hope (2012) and Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change (2003). She is a lifelong activist for social change and has worked on issues such as tenants’ rights, police abuse, union organizing, international politics, and most recently climate change.


July 21, 2020
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
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City Lights Books