Lawrence Lessig’s latest book, , represents both a departure from his previous work on intellectual property and an entrance into the world of political activism. He argues that Congress has become so corrupted by moneyed interests and has so undermined the public trust that our very republic is at risk. He seeks nothing less than a complete overhaul of our campaign-finance system.
David V. Johnson in the Boston Review:
David Johnson: Republic, Lost is about institutional corruption in Congress. In reading it, one impression I had is that it’s about so much more than just Congress. It’s really about our society. There are so many institutions that are suffering from the same corruption from moneyed interests.
Lawrence Lessig: Yes, and that’s not an accident. I run the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard; we have launched a five-year research project focusing on institutional corruption generally. So this problem I describe in the context of Congress is just a particular instance of a more general dynamic in accounting, financial services, healthcare, academics, the media—you can pick your field—and we can describe a similar dynamic of corrupting influences that we’ve allowed to seep into the institution that distract it from what we think the institution is for.
DJ: If this is such a broad-based phenomenon, why isn’t it more obvious to people?
LL: Well, I actually think that outside of the academy it is obvious, but it’s not so obvious that it triggers people to react. I think of a metaphor to certain diseases like sleeping sickness, which the body just can never muster a sufficient immune response, and therefore it slowly brings the body down; that might be the case here.