The Digital Republic: On Freedom and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

Pegasus. Jul. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781643139012. $27.96. POL SCI
Susskind (Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech) analyzes how the populace in the EU and U.S. might properly govern digital technology (DI) to check its unaccountable power and reclaim its promise as a tonic for freedom and representative popular governance. Fundamental to Susskind’s half-dozen major proposals is what he dubs “digital republicanism” as a way of thinking about power and freedom to oppose domination by one group, such as DI, and to counter what he calls “market individualism” that advocates the least constrained pursuit of individual self-interest. Exposing the sham of industry self-regulation, he calls for public controls to impose a code of conduct, duties and standards on DI platforms to protect user rights and advance what he considers basic institutions and values a functioning free society requires. While urging U.S. and EU readers to understand we can do better than leave people to fend for themselves against corporate power, Susskind recognizes formidable challenges to governing digital technologies in a world where the digital is political.
VERDICT Susskind provides historical background and philosophical underpinnings for a robust but admitted patchwork of efforts to get past political gridlock and on to adapting to the needs of the unfolding century.
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