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House of Cards and Philosophy: Underwood's Republic



House of Cards and Philosophy: Underwood's Republic

J. Edward Hackett

ISBN: 978-1-119-09282-7 October 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 304 Pages

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Is Democracy overrated?

Does power corrupt? Or do corrupt people seek power?

Do corporate puppet masters pull politicians’ strings?

Why does Frank talk to the camera?

Can politics deliver on the promise of justice?

House of Cards depicts our worst fears about politics today. Love him or loathe him, Frank Underwood has charted an inimitable course through Washington politics. He and his cohorts depict the darkest dealings within the gleaming halls of our most revered political institutions.

These 24 original essays examine key philosophical issues behind the critically-acclaimed series—questions of truth, justice, equality, opportunity, and privilege. The amoral machinations of Underwood, the ultimate anti-hero, serve as an ideal backdrop for a discussion of the political theories of philosophers as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Marx. From political and corporate ethics, race relations, and ruthless paragmatism to mass media collusion and sexual politics, these essays tackle a range of issues important not only to the series but to our understanding of society today.

Introduction: Contemplating a House of Cards 1

Part I Socrates, Plato, and Frank 3

1 Of Sheep, Shepherds, and a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Cynical View of Politics in House of Cards and Plato’s Republic 5
James Ketchen and Michael Yeo

2 Being versus Seeming: Socrates and the Lessons of Francis Underwood’s Asides 16
John Scott Gray

Part II Imagining Possibilities: American Ideals in House of Cards 29

3 Frank Underwood Gives the Ideal Society a Reality Check 31
Brian Kogelmann

4 “What Will We Leave Behind?” Claire Underwood’s American Dream 42
Sarah J. Palm and Kenneth W. Stikkers

Part III Characterizing Frank: U¨ bermensch or the Prince 53

5 Underwood as U¨ bermensch: A Postmodern Play of Power 55
Leslie A. Aarons

6 Why Underwood Is Frankly Not an Overman 68
Matt Meyer

7 American Machiavelli 81
Greg Littmann

8 Machiavelli Would Not Be Impressed 92
Don Fallis

9 Is Frank the Man for the Job? House of Cards and the Problem of Dirty Hands 102
Tomer J. Perry

Part IV Classical Liberalism and Democracy 113

10 Frank the Foole, Upon a House of Cards 115
Shane D. Courtland

11 Hobbes and Frank on Why Democracy Is Overrated 128
Steven Michels

12 “Democracy Is So Overrated”: The Shortcomings of Popular Rule 141
Brendan Shea

13 “Money Gives Power . . . Well, a Run for Its Money”: Marx’s Observations on Why Capital and Not Frank Is Really in Charge of the White House 152
Chris Byron and Nathan Wood

14 Freedom and Democracy in a House of Fear 163
Roberto Sirvent and Ian Diorio

Part V Intrapersonal Relationships, Sexuality, and Race in House of Cards 173

15 Under the Covers with the Underwoods: The Sexual Politics of the Underwood Marriage 175
Jason Southworth and Ruth Tallman

16 The Spice of White Life: Freddy and Racist Representations 187
Stephanie Rivera Berruz

17 Broken Friendships and the Pathology of Corporate Personhood in House of Cards 197
Myron Moses Jackson

Part VI Existential Realities: Self-Love and Freedom 207

18 Praying to One’s Self, for One’s Self: Frank’s Ethics and Politics of Autoeroticism 209
Kody W. Cooper

19 Existential Freedom, Self-Interest, and Frank Underwood’s Underhandedness 219
J. Edward Hackett

Part VII Let Me Be Frank with You: Agency, Aesthetics, and Intention 227

20 Rooting for the Villain: Frank Underwood and the Lack of Imaginative Resistance 229
L´aszl ´o Kajt ´ar

21 Frank Underwood’s Intentions 237
Angelica Kaufmann

22 Francis Underwood’s Magical Political Mystery Tour Is Dying to Take You Away; Dying to Take You Away, Take You Today 245
Austin Dressen and Charles Taliaferro

Part VII Virtue and Character in House of Cards 255

23 Frank Underwood and the Virtue of Friendship 257
Katherine K. Johnson

24 Have You No Decency? Who Is Worse, Claire or Frank? 265
Randall Auxier

President Frank Underwood’s White House Staff (Contributors) 282

Index 289