Capitalism v. Democracy


To order:

Stanford University Press

Country-specific Amazon stores:  Canada  //  Spain //  United Kingdom  //  France  //  Germany  //  Brazil  //  India  //  Italy  //  Mexico // Japan   

*Flyer to print, post, or email

**Excerpt published by

***Essay 1: A New Era of Political Exclusion

****Essay 2: The New Tyranny: A Preface to the 2016 Elections

Bowdoin College


  • “Timothy Kuhner is one of today’s most important young legal thinkers. Bringing a highly sophisticated understanding of both law and economics to bear on the critical relationship between democracy and the 21st century marketplace, Capitalism v. Democracy avoids easy answers and empty slogans. A must-read for anyone concerned with the health of American constitutional democracy, regardless of political inclinations.” Jefferson Powell, Duke University School of Law (Powell’s books)
  • “This powerfully written work teaches us a fundamental lesson about American politics today: that the demand for reform is not partisan. From the Right and Left, Kuhner shows why the rules that corrupt both democracy and capitalism must change.” Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School (Lessig’s books)
  • “After Citizens United, it is essential to think about the relationship of money to politics and the rights of corporations in our constitutional democracy. Timothy Kuhner has written a brilliant examination of these issues. All concerned with American democracy (which should be all of us) need to read this insightful book about political power at a time when money, and the corporations that possess it, have increasing influence.” Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of Berkeley Law School, University of California (Chemerinsky’s books)
  • “America depends on two foundational institutions — democracy and capitalism. Although each is based on values central to American ideals, the interaction of these institutions can be mutually corrosive. In Capitalism v. Democracy, Professor Timothy Kuhner convincingly shows that by blurring the line between economic and democratic values and rationalities, the legal regime governing money in politics has made this corrosion manifest. Professor Kuhner’s impressive book brings economic and political theory to bear on the evolution of the constitutional law of democracy, which he argues not only permits but “amplifie[s]” the substitution of democratic values for free-market notions of economic competition in the political sphere (p. xi). The upshot of subjecting economic competition to a regime of constitutional rights is the loss not only of democracy but also of capitalism: innovation-producing economic competition is neglected amid battles over political influence. Kuhner ultimately determines that “[t]he free market theory now governing the law of democracy is so comprehensive and absolute” that only a constitutional amendment or a change in the Court’s composition could properly separate politics from economics (p. 93). Professor Kuhner’s timely book will interest scholars and reformers alike.”The Harvard Law Review, 128 Harv. L. Rev. 1894 (2015)
  • “As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution is a minor masterpiece of political science and judicial scholarship. A seminal contribution… ‘Capitalism v. Democracy’ is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it ideal for the non-specialist general reader seeking a better and non-partisan understanding of the impact money has on democracy and the American political system.” —Midwest Book Review, Reviewer’s Bookwatch, September 2014 (Volume 14, No. 9)
  • “Law professor Timothy Kuhner has written an exhaustive, learned analysis of the Supreme Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence, drawing on legal, political science, and economics perspectives. It is at the same time a sustained, passionate polemic against the contributions of the Roberts Court to that jurisprudence…The book is essential for those interested in election law or campaign finance reform, and makes useful contributions in the fields of political economy and democratic theory.” —Daniel Hoffman, Law and Politics Book Review
  • “For anyone who is concerned about the role of money in politics, there is no doubt cause when a candidate for President must raise a billion dollars and a Senate candidate must raise at least ten million. Much of that money comes from corporations and the impact of it is addressed in Capitalism v. Democracy: Money in Politics and the Free Market Constitution by Timothy K. Kuhner… Kuhner is an associate professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law who lectures here and abroad. ‘European audiences can’t believe that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued official state justifications for an unregulated open political market, the sovereignty of donors and spenders, and the demise of political equality.’ The relationship of money and politics, along with the rights of corporations in our constitutional democracy is vigorously examined in this book.” —Alan Caruba, Bookviews (picks of the month, September 2014)
      As of the latest national elections, it costs approximately $1 billion to become president, $10 million to become a Senator, and $1 million to become a Member of the House. High-priced campaigns, an elite class of donors and spenders, superPACs, and increasing corporate political power have become the new normal in American politics. In Capitalism v. Democracy, Timothy Kuhner explains how these conditions have corrupted American democracy, turning it into a system of rule that favors the wealthy and marginalizes ordinary citizens. Kuhner maintains that these conditions have corrupted capitalism as well, routing economic competition through political channels and allowing politically powerful companies to evade market forces. The Supreme Court has brought about both forms of corruption by striking down campaign finance reforms that limited the role of money in politics. Exposing the extreme economic worldview that pollutes constitutional interpretation, Kuhner shows how the Court became the architect of American plutocracy.     
      Capitalism v. Democracy offers the key to understanding why corporations are now citizens, money is political speech, limits on corporate spending are a form of censorship, democracy is a free market, and political equality and democratic integrity are unconstitutional constraints on money in politics. Supreme Court opinions have dictated these conditions in the name of the Constitution, as though the Constitution itself required the privatization of democracy. Kuhner explores the reasons behind these opinions, reveals that they form a blueprint for free market democracy, and demonstrates that this design corrupts both politics and markets. He argues that nothing short of a constitutional amendment can set the necessary boundaries between capitalism and democracy.
Author’s Note:
     I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to research and write about the issues that I find most controversial and significant. That’s where Capitalism v. Democracy came from: I studied the Supreme Court’s cases on money in politics for years, taught many of them in my classes, published scholarly papers on that material and presented them at conferences, and then began building a bridge from that academic world to the public. I hardly had a choice. What I discovered in the cases on money in politics was so shocking that it was clear to me from the beginning that this line of research ultimately had to be turned over to the broader public. I believe people must see for themselves what the Supreme Court has done, consider what democracy and capitalism are becoming as a result, and ask whether that’s consistent with their values and our political tradition. That political tradition never stands still. I’m committed to exposing the directions it’s taking and putting that information out there for everyone to see.
  • Please send your comments on the book through the contact form below.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s