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Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy


Read an excerpt in Salon

Read an excerpt in Truthout

Read an excerpt in Social Policy

In the United States and much of the world there is a palpable depression about the prospect of overcoming the downward spiral created by the tyranny of wealth and privilege and establishing a truly democratic and sustainable society. It threatens to become self-fulfilling. In this trailblazing new book, award-winning author Robert W. McChesney argues that the weight of the present is blinding people to the changing nature and the tremendous possibilities of the historical moment we inhabit.

In Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century, he uses a sophisticated political economic analysis to delineate the recent trajectory of capitalism and its ongoing degeneration. In exciting new research McChesney reveals how notions of democratic media are becoming central to activists around the world seeking to establish post-capitalist democracies. Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century also takes a fresh look at recent progressive political campaigns in the United States. While conveying complex ideas in a lively and accessible manner, McChesney demonstrates that a very different and far superior world is not only necessary, but possible.

Robert McChesney reveals once again why he is one of the thinkers who really matter to American society. Whether he is analyzing military spending or the explosive growth of prisons, whether he is critiquing the destructive power of the wealthy on American democracy through massive political donations or the perils the monopolistic control of the media present for the future of our nation, McChesney shines a bright light on what the wealthy and powerful want to remain hidden. While I many not agree with every one of his conclusions, few have shown as powerfully how American democracy is at risk in the 21st century.

—Senator Bernie Sanders

This book is an exemplary wake-up call not only for serious progressives but for all who see that the curtain will fall on American democracy if neo-liberal capitalism remains out of control.

—Cornel West

Regardless of their voting history and political views, anyone who gives McChesney’s lucid, accessible State of the Nation his or her time will find it worthy of thought and discussion.

Publishers Weekly

The sleeper book of the year. McChesney stands taller than ever on the intellectual ramparts, bringing home the futility of our present politics from both the theoretical and practical perspectives, and creating a paradigm for a reasoned civic discourse commensurate with the challenges our country faces.

—Michael J. Copps, FCC Commissioner, 2001-2011

As usual, McChesney provides astute analysis and a clear look at the state of journalism today. I can only hope it broadly becomes the required reading it deserves.

—Bill Kovach, former Washington Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Here is Robert McChesney at his most urgent! Read this book and find out how capitalism is eating our democracy and devouring the Web—and what you can do about it.

—Matthew Rothschild, senior editor, The Progressive

Robert McChesney always situates his writing in the context of the most heated battles of those fighting for justice. His essays and books reflect both timeliness and longevity, but they most especially reflect the need for urgency in response to the conditions faced by the oppressed. I am always ready to dig into his work because I know that I will be left thinking.

—Bill Fletcher, Jr., writer and activist; author, “They’re Bankrupting Us” And Twenty Other Myths about Unions

McChesney’s work has been of extraordinary importance. It should be read with care and concern by people who care about freedom and basic rights.

—Noam Chomsky

A brilliant analysis of the interrelated material and symbolic forces that are pushing the United States into a new form of authoritarianism and threatening the very existence of humanity. Steeped in a language of critique and possibility, McChesney weaves together a variety of issues to make clear that the struggle for a radical democracy must bring together not only an understanding of the engines of political economy, but also the educational power of those cultural apparatuses that shape our desires, values, identities, and sense of agency. In effect, McChesney has not only created a new political language for a new mode of democratic agency but also offered a distinct and powerful vision of hope and a foundation for individual and collective resistance.

—Henry Giroux, author, America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth

Both a revelatory history of ideas and a table-thumping call to action, McChesney’s latest shows that it’s not only today’s media problems that have deep roots. Drawing on often overlooked history, McChesney shows a way out of powerlessness in the face of corporate media’s culture-choking grip. This book reminds us that we don’t have to watch monopoly media ride roughshod over our hopes for democratic communication!

—Janine Jackson, program director, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Is there anyone with Robert McChesney’s track record as a rock and roll journalist turned scholar, as the author of book after book detailing the decline of our democracy and the slavish and complicit role played by our media in service to special interests and big power? He is a researcher, activist, fiery as a speaker and organizer, always aware that footnotes are never enough, that we must organize and raise awareness but never shrink from confronting the apologists and bureaucrats of all parties. Sing his praises as a uniquely American teacher, father, and mentor whose work with Free Press and in the classroom offers an example of someone asking the important questions and always going deeper to show us the way. Let us continue to learn from him and support his independent work and courageous stance at a time that so many look away when the real crisis is exposed. As they would say in South Africa, Viva Robert W. McChesney, Viva.

—Danny Schechter, author, journalist, and filmmaker

Robert W. McChesney is the Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. He is the author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy and, with John Nichols, Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, among other titles.

Paperback ISBN: 978-9-35002-344-0

eBook ISBN: 978-1-58367-479-6

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-478-9

Number of Pages: 288

Publication Date: October 2014