Item description for Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents by Brian C. Anderson...
Despite the fall of its ideological enemies---the political messianisms of communism and national socialism---democratic capitalism faces extraordinary challenges in the new millennium, argues City Journal editor and South Park Conservatives author Brian C. Anderson in this thought-provoking new book. Not only has a fanatical form of Islam distrupted the peace and prosperity of the postcommunist era, which some had wrongly heralded as a liberal-democratic "end of history"; our free societies also remain haunted by internal demons---egalitarian fantasies, moral libertinism, an arid and unsustainable secularism, a suicide of culture.
Yet nothing ordains the triumph of these demons over the democratic capitalist prospect, Anderson believes. Drawing on a rich anti-utopian tradition of political thought, he defends the real achievements of the free society against an array of critics, ranging from Jean-Paul Sartre to British anti-market conservative John Gray to the quietly authoritarian social democrat John Rawls to the postmodern Marxist and one-time terrorist Antonio Negri.
Anderson pays particularly close attention to the United States, the democratic capitalist nation par excellence, showing how it differs from other liberal democracies in its robust religiosity, vigorous civil society, and constitutionalism---all under threat from the American Left. Finally, Anderson explores the thought of some of the deepest anti-utopian thinkers who are friends---albeit critical ones---of the modern regime of liberty, including the brilliant French political theorist Pierre Manent and the godfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol.
Crisply and vividly presented, Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents is an essential guide to the conflicts of our time.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.5" Width: 5.7" Height: 0.9" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Jun 15, 2007
Publisher Intercollegiate Studies Institute
ISBN 1933859245 ISBN13 9781933859248
Availability 0 units.
More About Brian C. Anderson
Brian C. Anderson is senior editor at City Journal and author of Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political.
Brian C. Anderson currently resides in New York City, in the state of New York. Brian C. Anderson was born in 1933.
Reviews - What do customers think about Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents?
Another Stand-out Book from Mr. Anderson Jan 22, 2008
All I could think of while reading these essays was how much Mr. Anderson reminded me of Roger Kimball--my favorite conservative writer and thinker. Anderson's South Park Republicans was an excellent book, but this one is even better. It's a serious examination of cultural trends along with the malignant beliefs of our anti-capitalist, and yes anti-democratic, intellectuals. I read a review of it in National Review which made me wary, so the book itself was a pleasant surprise. It made it sound like it was an obscure philosophical work. On the contrary, however, this short collection of essays is full of vigor and specificity.
Democratic Capitalism addresses both the pathologies of the political left along with the idiosyncrasies of a gaggle of talking heads. The dissection of Hardt and Negri's Empire was a joy to digest, and far preferable to actually having to read it. I also found his examination of Jean-Paul Sarte enlightening. The man was a monster...yet so much less. When I was in college debate, the name John Rawls was on everyone's lips; although, his was a slippery and allusive form of justice; one which made no room for his ideological opponents. Mr. Anderson illuminates the non-democratic tendencies of Rawls along with those of many other figures. The essay on the rise of judicial activism was pretty horrifying but went a long way in explaining the culture in which we now find ourselves. What hope is there for conservatives given the recent victories of emotion over reason and of political correctness over freedom in our daily life? The future appears rather dim but we should be cheered by our foes rampant insecurity. This suggests that our side, just by the nature of its continued existence, may be more powerful than we suspect.
Discontents Unresolved Oct 29, 2007
This is a good read primarily because it takes the reader through important subjects related to modern democracy, and presents a number of interesting philosophers. But the bad news is that it doesn't meet the implied aim of giving a clear picture of how persons can do anything to improve civil society. And this is particularly true of people who aren't philosophers with extreme positions. The reader who searches for a balanced examination of the problems that come from a democratic society is rewarded with frustration.
The book opens with a statement of two primary weaknesses of liberal democracy, namely that it overdoes equality, and tends to produce a lack of moral direction. These are important areas to explore. But the way of doing so raises skepticism. In Chapter 2, Anderson presents an analysis of "Empire", by Hardt and Negri. He characterizes the book as being the absolutely the worst drivel imaginable, and ties it to the liberal press, citing the New York Times (p 24). Interestingly, I found "Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents" and was prompted to buy it by a rather favorable editor's comment in the Times Book Review. But in any event, accepting the author's characterizations, what is the purpose of his setting up Empire as representing total trash, so as to then knock it down? How does this contribute to the American citizen who wants to understand how we are or aren't dealing with moral issues in our law and politics? Chapter 6, with a discussion of the writings of John Rawls, seems similarly to have the purpose of setting up a bogey man so as to be able to knock him down. There is no case made that a significant number of Americans, of the left, center or otherwise, follow his teachings or, indeed, even know anything about him. And again in Chapter 8, Sartre is the absolute bad guy on the left who gets hung out to dry. What is a person in the center supposed to do, go find books that castigate writers who argue from the right?
Some of the other chapters take you through interesting material, such as the one on "Religious America, Secular Europe", that discusses reasons for the greater religiosity in American compared to Europe. A number of other writers are analyzed for their positions on the trouble with democracy, with succeeding positions trending toward the author's preferences. In the end the primary suggestion regarding how to achieve a better moral dimension in modern democracy is to have the Catholic Church resist democratic pressures and to "instill vital spiritual energies into our social order". (p 176) Is there nothing that we lay people can do?
The book left me yearning for a more insightful presentation that doesn't give the impression of just wanting to force conclusions. There are no notes, no references to sources. The two starting points deserve better attention, and people who don't want to be characterized as extreme left or extreme right should be given better treatment. I would prefer to give it 2 ½ stars, but since that isn't allowed, and the book does make you think about very important subjects, I give it 3 stars.
Ted Preston, author of "Judging the Lawyers"
The better way is balance - not Perfection Oct 7, 2007
One central insight of this book is the notion that Mankind cannot create a perfect political order for itself- and that efforts to bring about a Utopian order for Mankind have been and will always be- disastrous. Pointing to the secular Utopias that failed in this century and took over one- hundred million lives, the champion of democratic capitalism Anderson refuses to gloat. The victory of democratic capitalism and the increasing effort of Mankind to move in the direction of the relatively successful American model have not brought paradise either. Anderson relying on the analysis of the French Historian Francois Furet points to two flaws in free- market societies. The first is that preaching an equality of opportunity they lead to unrealistic egalitarian expectations. Secondly , the societies suffer from moral uncertainties. Their giving so much weight to individual judgment and decision mean that they bear within them a tendency to moral anarchy. And it is possible to argue that many of the social ills which have come to plague America in the last half- century especially have come out of an excessive retreat of public communal ethic before individual wish and whim. Anderson in his defense of democratic capitalism urges a modification towards greater balance between communal obligation and individual judgment. He provides readings of key thinkers such as the radical egalitarian John Rawls, Bernard de Jouvenal. His work is in the tradition of the sensible defenders of liberty and democracy perhaps most notably Isaiah Berlin. An instructive , timely and important work.
An important new work on globalization. Sep 7, 2007
Anderson's fast-paced book is a perfect guide to some of the big questions of our time: Is globalization good or bad? How does the American model of democratic capitalism compare with Europe's social democracies? Why do so many intellectuals despise the free society? Anderson's central argument--to adapt Churchill, democratic capitalism is the worst form of society except for all the others that have been tried--is reasonable and elegantly expressed. Required reading for anyone interested in politics...five stars!