Review Of "A Call To Dissent: Defending Democracy Against Extremism And Populism" By S. Sim

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Published In



The book is an extended polemic urging an attitude and a practice of dissent in politics, religion, science, aesthetics, and even one’s own self-understanding. Sim (critical theory, Northumbria Univ., UK) writes from a general postmodern perspective represented prominently by Derrida and Lyotard, but the book can be read profitably by those with any nondogmatic perspective. Indeed, underlying Sim’s clarion call for dissent is a decidedly liberal view decrying “the loss of personal liberty and human rights” (p. 7). The targets here are a variety of authoritarian regimes, including authoritarian-light regimes in the UK and US. Sim argues for dissent not only in politics but also wherever there are oppressive hegemonic authoritarian regimes. In aesthetics, for example, the agreed on canons for judging artwork tend to make art rule-bound and exclusionary. The author is aware that dissent or skepticism for its own sake is puerile, so dissent must be reasoned. In his discussion of various thinkers, including Hegel, Marx, Hume, and Kant, Sim's criticisms are far too impressionistic, so this is not a book for scholars. However, it encourages greater dissent against oppressive authority and is well worth reading for the general public. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates and general readers.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

This document is currently not available here.