New Book: Arnold August’s “Cuba and its Neighbours—Democracy in Motion”


Arnold August’s new book, entitled Cuba and its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion, has just been co-published (2013) by Fernwood Publishing and ZED Books; it is distributed in the U.S. by Palgrave Macmillan. According to the author, the neighbors of Cuba under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Reviews: Antoni Kapcia (University of Nottingham) describes this as “a tour de force from an expert who clearly knows his field well” and “one that goes out of its way to make us think about what we understand by ‘democracy’ and how we should view new manifestations in the ‘Third World.’” Cliff DuRand (Research Associate, Center for Global Justice, Professor Emeritus of Social Philosophy, Morgan State University, Baltimore) says, “Arnold August cuts through the common propaganda about democracy in the U.S. and the supposed lack of democracy in Cuba. Where August’s earlier work on the Cuban political system opened a window to this forbidden island, Cuba and Its Neighbours deepens our understanding of Cuba’s participatory processes and shows how they have been shaped by Cuba’s revolutionary history.”

Description: In this groundbreaking book, Arnold August explores Cuba’s unique form of democracy, presenting a detailed and balanced analysis of Cuba’s electoral process and the state’s functioning between elections. By comparing it with practices in the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, August shows that people’s participation in politics and society is not limited to a singular U.S.–centric understanding of democracy. For example, democracy as practised in the U.S. is largely non-participatory, static and fixed in time. Cuba, by contrast, is a laboratory where the process of democratization is continually in motion, an ongoing experiment to create new ways for people to participate. August argues forcefully for the need to develop mutual understanding of different political systems and, in doing so, to not be satisfied with either blanket condemnation or idealistic illusions, both resulting from a refusal to analyze the actual inner workings of each process.

Arnold August holds an MA in political science from McGill University. He is an author, journalist and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections (Editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled “Socialism and Elections” for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida).

For full information on this book, including the complete Table of Contents, the Reviews to date, About the Author, how to request an examination copy for a course, or to purchase the book, visit

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