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Political Science Economic Conditions

Civilizing the State

Reclaiming Politics for the Common Good

by (author) John Restakis

New Society Publishers
Initial publish date
Nov 2021
Economic Conditions, Globalization, Civics & Citizenship
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2021
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The liberal state is dead, long live the partner state

Across the world, the liberal nation state is on its knees. Rising inequality, deep political polarization, and the pervasive power of corporations are tearing apart the social contract and threatening to crush democracy.

Civilizing the State traces the history and development of the liberal state and its changing role from the enabler of capitalism to protector of citizen welfare, to its hollowing out and capture by corporate and elite interests rendering it unfit to address the compounding crises of inequality, injustice, ecological collapse, and loss of legitimacy.

Author John Restakis explores citizen-powered alternatives and experiments in co-operation, deep democracy, solidarity economics, and commoning from Spain, India, the global peasant movement, and the emerging stateless democracy of Rojava rising from the wreckage of the Syrian civil war.

The final section views the current crisis as an opportunity to reimagine the state not as handmaid to predatory elites but as a partner state that promotes equity, economic democracy, co-operation, and human thriving, driven by deep democracy and a fully sovereign civil society.

Incisive, penetrating, and inspirational, this is essential reading for all engaged citizens with a stake in co-creating a better future for all.

About the author

John Restakis is the former Executive Director of the BC Co-operative Association and has been a consultant for co-op development projects in Africa, South America, and Asia. He is a practitioner, educator, and pioneering researcher in international co-operative economies and the author of Humanizing the Economy. He lives in Vancouver, BC.


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Editorial Reviews

"John Restakis confronts one of the most important and neglected issues of our time. The nation state as we know it is an obsolete institution. With compelling and authoritative examples Civilizing the State lays out the problem and tests the solutions. An essential read for everyone concerned about the human future."
David Korten, author, When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

"John Restakis' Civilizing the State is a timely and necessary book in these times of corporate hijack of the state through neoliberal globalization. Three decades of deregulation have transformed welfare states "for the people, of the people, by the people" into corporate states "for the corporations, of the corporations, by the corporations." Nation states run by corporations for privatization of the commons and public goods are now mutating into corporate, surveillance states. Through examples of practice of direct democracy and political philosophies of civic participation, Restakis shows how we can reclaim democracy and the commons and shape a future for the common good."
Vandana Shiva, ecological scientist, activist, founder, Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology and Navdanya, founding board member, International Forum on Globalisation, author, Earth Democracy and Oneness Vs. the 1%

"As reactionary forces surge to the fore, John Restakis offers a bold vision for reinventing the state as a partner of the social economy, commons, and grassroots democracy. Thoughtful, provocative, and hopeful."
David Bollier, commons activist and scholar, co-author, Free, Fair, and Alive

"Could a better society be taking shape amidst the shards of our currently suicidal civilization? John Restakis makes a persuasive case that it is. He takes readers back to antiquity and up through intriguing experiments in our own time to explain that to solve the global crisis of the liberal state we must broaden, deepen, and enrich self-government. In Civilizing the State, readers will find both illumination and hope."
Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy, Duke University, author, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America

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