Skip Navigation

Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Civic Self-Respect
Book cover for Civic Self-Respect

A inspiring meditation on democracy that explores and separates the concept of a citizen into various roles, providing a clarifying mission to all who read this call to action and civic participation.

In this concise volume, Ralph Nader, our trusted voice on corporate power and civic resistance, goes right to the most basic taproots of an aspiring democracy—its people and their roles in creating and sustaining community. These roles, including citizen, voter, worker, taxpayer, consumer, and parent, contribute to civic self-respect, and one's own significance in society.

As federal judge Learned Hand said in 1944 during a famous brief speech at Central Park, New York City—neither the laws, the courts or other related institutions can be saved without the underlying exercise of the democratic spirit by the people. On a Living Democracy argues the importantace to recognize the centrality in the development of a civic personality, as distinguished from a private personality with the two co-existing for a moral life participating in the common good. As Nader's mother said when her friends would wonder how she could be raising four children and still have so much time for community engagements: “What's the difference?” One depends on each other—the family and the community.

This book argues for how important it is for our educational system to teach the essentials of civic responsibility beyond its occupational or technical emphasis, because the emergence of such a public-minded personality is so essential for understanding the world and shaping civil societies.

Book cover for Civic Self-Respect
Book cover for Civic Self-Respect

Buying options

Ralph Nader

Born in Connecticut in 1934, RALPH NADER has spent his lifetime challenging corporations and government agencies to be more accountable to the public. His 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed permanently altered the course of a reckless U.S. automobile industry and made Nader a household name. His lobbying and writing on the food industry helped to ensure that the food we buy is required to pass strict guidelines before reaching the consumer. One of Nader’s greatest achievements was his successful lobbying for a 1974 amendment to the Freedom of Information Act, which gave increased public access to government documents. Over the years he has co-founded the public interest groups Public Citizen, Critical Mass, Commercial Alert, and the Center for the Study of Responsive Law. His 2000 presidential campaign on the Green Party ticket served to broaden the scope of debate on the nation’s priorities. Named by the Atlantic as one of the hundred most influential figures in American history, Nader continues to be a relentless advocate for grassroots activism and democratic change. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Other books by Ralph Nader