Stock Image

Majority Rule versus Consensus: The Political Thought of John C. Calhoun (American Political Thought)

Read, James H.

2 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0700616357 / ISBN 13: 9780700616350
Published by University Press of Kansas
New Condition: New Hardcover
From BookZone Illinois (Aurora, IL, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since May 14, 1999 Seller Rating 5-star rating

Quantity Available: 1

Buy New
List Price: US$ 39.95
Price: US$ 28.70 Convert Currency
Shipping: US$ 3.49 Within U.S.A. Destination, rates & speeds
Add to basket

30 Day Return Policy

About this Item

Hardcover w / dustjacket. Pristine, Unread, Gift Quality. DJ is fine/new. "American History and Political Philosophy 20140927" Stored in sealed plastic protection. No pricing stickers. No remainder mark. No previous owner's markings. In the event of a problem we guarantee full refund. 2009. Hardcover w / dustjacket. Bookseller Inventory # 361774

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details

Title: Majority Rule versus Consensus: The ...

Publisher: University Press of Kansas

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

About this title


John C. Calhoun may be best known for his stature in the U.S. Senate and his controversial defense of slavery, but he is also a key figure in American political thought. The staunchest advocate of the consensus model of government as an alternative to majority rule, he proposed government not by one, by few, or by many, but by all: each key group enjoying veto rights over collective decisions.

Some consider consensus preferable to majority rule in deeply divided societies, and consensus theory has been advocated in such contemporary works as Lani Guinier's The Tyranny of the Majority. James Read's book, the first historically informed, theoretically sophisticated critique of Calhoun's political thought, goes beyond other studies to ask key questions about the feasibility of consensus. Read critically examines Calhoun's arguments, considering both their antebellum context—including Calhoun's spirited defense of slavery—and modern-day attempts to apply consensus models in Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, and South Africa.

Read sheds new light on the crisis leading up to the Civil War by exploring Calhoun's conviction that his uncompromising defense of slavery would help preserve the Union. He also juxtaposes Calhoun's thought with that of Jefferson and Madison, whose legacies Calhoun invoked to support his claim that states had the right to nullify federal law, and he contrasts Madison's ultimate faith in majority rule with Calhoun's ultimate rejection of it.

Read argues that, although Calhoun's critique of majority rule deserves careful attention, his remedy is unworkable and in the end unjust. Read demonstrates that governments ruled by consensus tend to be ineffective, that they are better at preventing common action than achieving common goods, and that they privilege strategically placed minorities rather than producing genuine consensus.

Majority Rule versus Consensus is a provocative work that sheds new light on the promise and limitations of democracy, showing that, despite the failure of Calhoun's remedy, his diagnosis of the potential injustice of majority rule must be taken seriously. It discourages uncritical celebrations of democracy in favor of reflection on how committed democrats can better address the problems that Calhoun attempted to solve.

From the Back Cover:

"An outstanding book. Read reveals the fundamental flaws of Calhoun's 'concurrent majority,' but also offers a sympathetic and compelling account of the Carolinian's vain efforts to craft a constitutional solution to the deepening sectional crisis. . . . Essential reading for all serious students of American political thought."--Peter Onuf, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

"Provides a lucid analysis of the political philosophy and constitutional theories of a key historical figure. . . . Invaluable for anyone with an interest in constitutional history or antebellum thought."--Daniel Farber, author of Lincoln's Constitution

"Very well done--a first-rate piece of work."--Michael P. Zuckert, author of The Natural Rights Republic

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Store Description

BookZone Illinois has over 107,000 books online, and adds more each day. We are located in Naperville, Illinois and sell only on-line. Our books can be pre- located (without charge) for pickup at BookZone on Thursdays between 10am and 2pm for customers in Chicago's western suburbs. For local pickup, please make arrangements by phone or e-mail, at least four working days prior to date of pickup.

Visit Seller's Storefront

Terms of Sale:

All sales in U.S. currency. Postal/commercial money orders accepted. We accept
PAYPAL, utilize "" for PayPal payment and make sure to
reference book title and book inventory number. Also for PAYPAL payments,
confirm the shipping address in the PAYPAL additional information blank and the
Inventory number of the item. PLEASE NOTE - WE NO LONGER ACCEPT CREDIT CARD

We also accept Interac E-Transfer from our customers in Canada. Please contact us for details.


More Information
Shipping Terms:

Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express