The American Dream has long been a dominant theme in U.S. culture, one with enduring significance, but these are difficult times for dreamers. The editors of and contributors to The American Dream in the 21st Century examine the American Dream historically, socially, and economically and consider its intersection with politics, religion, race, gender, and generation.
The conclusions presented in this short, readable volume provide both optimism for the faith that most Americans have in the possibility of achieving the American Dream and a realistic assessment of the cracks in the dream. The last presidential election offered hope, but the experts here warn about the need for better programs and policies that could make the dream a reality for a larger number of Americans.
American social critics in the 1970s, convinced that their nation was in decline, turned to psychoanalysis for answers and seized on narcissism as the sickness of the age. Books indicting Americans as greedy, shallow, and self-indulgent appeared, none more influential than Christopher Lasch’s famous 1978 jeremiad The Culture of Narcissism. This line of critique reached a crescendo the following year in Jimmy Carter’s “malaise speech” and has endured to this day.But as Elizabeth Lunbeck reveals, the American critics missed altogether the breakthrough in psychoanalytic thinking that was championing narcissism’s positive aspects. Psychoanalysts had clashed over narcissism from the moment Freud introduced it in 1914, and they had long been split on its defining aspects: How much self-love, self-esteem, and self-indulgence was normal and desirable? While Freud’s orthodox followers sided with asceticism, analytic dissenters argued for gratification. Fifty years later, the Viennese émigré Heinz Kohut led a psychoanalytic revolution centered on a “normal narcissism” that he claimed was the wellspring of human ambition, creativity, and empathy. But critics saw only pathology in narcissism. The result was the loss of a vital way to understand ourselves, our needs, and our desires.Narcissism’s rich and complex history is also the history of the shifting fortunes and powerful influence of psychoanalysis in American thought and culture. Telling this story, The Americanization of Narcissism ultimately opens a new view on the central questions faced by the self struggling amid the tumultuous crosscurrents of modernity.
Since the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, the debate on human rights in China has raged on with increasing volume and shifting context, but little real progress. In this provocative book, one of our most learned scholars of China moves beyond the political shouting match, informing and contextualizing this debate from a Confucian and a historical perspective."Asian Values" is a concept advanced by some authoritarian regimes to differentiate an Asian model of development, supposedly based on Confucianism, from a Western model identified with individualism, liberal democracy, and human rights. Highlighting the philosophical development of Confucianism as well as the Chinese historical experience with community organization, constitutionalism, education, and women's rights, Wm. Theodore de Bary argues that while the Confucian sense of personhood differs in some respects from Western libertarian concepts of the individual, it is not incompatible with human rights, but could, rather, enhance them.De Bary also demonstrates that Confucian communitarianism has historically resisted state domination, and that human rights in China could be furthered by a genuine Confucian communitarianism that incorporates elements of Western civil society. With clarity and elegance, Asian Values and Human Rights broadens our perspective on the Chinese human rights debate.
What makes somebody a Loser, a person doomed to unfulfilled dreams and humiliation? Nobody is born to lose, and yet failure embodies our worst fears. The Loser is our national bogeyman, and his history over the past two hundred years reveals the dark side of success, how economic striving reshaped the self and soul of America.From colonial days to the Columbine tragedy, Scott Sandage explores how failure evolved from a business loss into a personality deficit, from a career setback to a gauge of our self-worth. From hundreds of private diaries, family letters, business records, and even early credit reports, Sandage reconstructs the dramas of real-life Willy Lomans. He unearths their confessions and denials, foolish hopes and lost faith, sticking places and changing times. Dreamers, suckers, and nobodies come to life in the major scenes of American history, like the Civil War and the approach of big business, showing how the national quest for success remade the individual ordeal of failure.Born Losers is a pioneering work of American cultural history, which connects everyday attitudes and anxieties about failure to lofty ideals of individualism and salesmanship of self. Sandage's storytelling will resonate with all of us as it brings to life forgotten men and women who wrestled with The Loser--the label and the experience--in the days when American capitalism was building a nation of winners.
In Educating for Virtue, five scholars address one of the most pressing issues of our time: the relationship between education and the development of moral character. With essays by Claes G. Ryn, Russell Kirk, Paul Gottfried, Peter J. Stanlis, Solveig Eggerz.
From the Foreword:
“If there is a single thread that runs through these essays, it is the recognition of a universal order that transcends the flux of human life and gives meaning to it. Insofar as men act in accordance with this order, they experience true happiness and are brought into community with others who are similarly motivated. But men are afflicted with contrary impulses that are destructive of universal order. When acted upon, these impulses bring suffering and a sense of meaninglessness and despair; the result is disintegration and conflict--within both the personality and society at large. Yet so tempting are the attactions of these impulses that they frequently prevail and must be taken into account in any realistic assessment of human affairs. This tension within the person between competing desires--the conflict between what Plato called the One and the Many--is the ultimate reality of human experience. To apprehend this reality, and to act in the light of the transcendent purpose with appropriate reverence and restraint, is the essence of wisdom; and to help deepen and strengthen this apprehension--through philosophy, history, literature, and the arts and sciences--is the overarching purpose of any education worthy of the name.”
Abortion, euthanasia, racism, sexism, paternalism, the rights of children, the population explosion, and the dynamics of economic growth are examined in the light of ethical principles by leading philosophers in order to suggest reasonable judgments.
Originally prepared for the distinguished Wayne Leys Memorial Lecture Series at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, the essayists have addressed themselves to the most pressing ethical questions being asked today. William K. Frankena, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, in “The Ethics of Respect for Life” argues for a qualified view of moral respect for human personality. From his viewpoint it is always prima facie wrong to shorten or prevent human life, but not always actually wrong as other moral conditions may counter the presumed wrong. The late William T. Blackstone in “Zero Population Growth and Zero Economic Growth” contends that justice will require the production of the maximal level of goods to fulfill basic human needs compatible with the avoidance of ecological catastrophe.
Richard Wasserstrom, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, proposes an assimilationist ideal in “Racism, Sexism, and Preferential Treatment.” Gerald Dworkin, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle, dares to ask “Is More Choice Better than Less?” Joel Feinberg, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, in “The Child’s Right to an Open Future,” offers a defense of “rights-in-trust” of children. Tom L. Beauchamp, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute-Center for Bioethics of Georgetown University, considers the paternalism used to justify social policies in the practice of medicine and insists that it invariably involves a conflict between the ethical principles of beneficence and autonomy.
“Cultural instructions.” Everyone who has handled a package of seedlings has encountered that enigmatic advisory. This much water and that much sun, certain tips about fertilizer, soil, and drainage. Planting one sort of flower nearby keeps the bugs away but proximity to another sort makes bad things happen. Young shoots might need stakes, and watch out for beetles, weeds, and unseasonable frosts. It’s a complicated business.
But at least since Cicero introduced the term cultura animi (“cultivation of the mind or spirit”), such “cultural instructions” have applied as much to the realm of civilization as to horticulture. In this wide-ranging investigation into the vicissitudes of culture in the twenty-first century, the distinguished critic Roger Kimball traces the deep filiations between cultivation as a spiritual enterprise and the prerequisites of political freedom. Drawing on figures as various as James Burnham, Richard Weaver, G. K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, John Buchan, Friedrich von Hayek, and Leszek Kolakowski, Kimball traces the interconnections between what he calls the fortunes of permanence and such ambassadors of anarchy as relativism, multiculturalism, and the socialist-utopian imperative.
With his signature blend of wit and erudition, Kimball deftly draws on the resources of art, literature, and political philosophy to illuminate some of the wrong turns and dead ends our culture has recently pursued, while also outlining some of the simple if overlooked alternatives to the various tyrannies masquerading as liberation we have again and again fallen prey to. This rich, rewarding, and intelligent volume bristles with insights into what the nineteenth-century novelist Anthony Trollope called “The Way We Live Now.”
Partly an exercise in cultural pathology, The Fortunes of Permanence is also a forward-looking effort of cultural recuperation. It promises to be essential reading for anyone concerned about the direction of Western culture in an age of anti-Western animus and destructive multicultural fantasy.
In this era in which more women are running for public office—and when there is increased activism among women—understanding gender differences on political issues has become critical. In her cogent study, Mary-Kate Lizotte argues that assessing the gender gap in public support for policies through a values lens provides insight into American politics today. There is ample evidence that men and women differ in their value endorsements—even when taking into account factors such as education, class, race, income, and party identification.
In Gender Differences in Public Opinion, Lizotte utilizes nationally representative data, mainly from the American National Election Study, to study these gender gaps, the explanatory power of values, and the political consequences of these differences. She examines the gender differences in several policy areas such as equal rights, gun control, the death penalty, and the environment, as well as social welfare issues. The result is an insightful and revealing study of how men and women vary in their policy positions and political attitudes.
To make his argument, Leverenz casts an unusually wide net, from ancient and modern cultures of honor to social, political, and military history to American literature and popular culture.
He highlights the convergence of whiteness and honor in the United States from the antebellum period to the present. The Civil War, the civil rights movement, and the election of Barack Obama represent racial progress; the Tea Party movement represents the latest recoil.
From exploring African American narratives to examining a 2009 episode of Hardball—in which two white commentators restore their honor by mocking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after he called Americans “cowards” for not talking more about race—Leverenz illustrates how white honor has prompted racial shaming and humiliation. The United States became a nation-state in which light-skinned people declared themselves white. The fear masked by white honor surfaces in such classics of American literature as The Scarlet Letter and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and in the U.S. wars against the Barbary pirates from 1783 to 1815 and the Iraqi insurgents from 2003 to the present. John McCain’s Faith of My Fathers is used to frame the 2008 presidential campaign as white honor’s last national stand.
Honor Bound concludes by probing the endless attempts in 2009 and 2010 to preserve white honor through racial shaming, from the “birthers” and Tea Party protests to Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” in Congress and the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. at the front door of his own home. Leverenz is optimistic that, in the twenty-first century, racial shaming is itself becoming shameful.
The most significant conquest of the twentieth century may well have been the triumph of American consumer society over Europe’s bourgeois civilization. It is this little-understood but world-shaking campaign that unfolds in Irresistible Empire, Victoria de Grazia’s brilliant account of how the American standard of living defeated the European way of life and achieved the global cultural hegemony that is both its great strength and its key weakness today.De Grazia describes how, as America’s market empire advanced with confidence through Europe, spreading consumer-oriented capitalism, all alternative strategies fell before it—first the bourgeois lifestyle, then the Third Reich’s command consumption, and finally the grand experiment of Soviet-style socialist planning. Tracing the peculiar alliance that arrayed New World salesmanship, statecraft, and standardized goods against the Old World’s values of status, craft, and good taste, Victoria de Grazia follows the United States’ market-driven imperialism through a vivid series of cross-Atlantic incursions by the great inventions of American consumer society. We see Rotarians from Duluth in the company of the high bourgeoisie of Dresden; working-class spectators in ramshackle French theaters conversing with Garbo and Bogart; Stetson-hatted entrepreneurs from Kansas in the midst of fussy Milanese shoppers; and, against the backdrop of Rome’s Spanish Steps and Paris’s Opera Comique, Fast Food in a showdown with advocates for Slow Food. Demonstrating the intricacies of America’s advance, de Grazia offers an intimate and historical dimension to debates over America’s exercise of soft power and the process known as Americanization. She raises provocative questions about the quality of the good life, democracy, and peace that issue from the vaunted victory of mass consumer culture.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels" -SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1775
Updated and revised following the 2004 elections, The Last Refuge describes the current state of American politics against the backdrop of mounting ecological and social problems, the corrosive influence of money, the corruption of language, and the misuse of terrorism as a political issue.
Setting out an agenda that transcends conventional ideological labels, David Orr contends that partisan wrangling is only a symptom of a deeper dysfunction: The whole political machinery that connects Americans' fundamentally honorable ideals with public policy is broken. The book offers a withering critique of the failings of the Bush administration, supplemented by new essays that look at the national-level dominance of the Republican Party and examine the fallacy that the evangelical right represents a Christian majority.
After analyzing the challenges of reforming the current system, Orr offers an empowering vision of a second American Revolution that peaceably achieves sustainability and charts a hopeful course for forward-looking citizens.
It is one thing to comprehend how culture makes its way through the world in those cases where something old is reproduced in the same physical shape-where, for example, a song is sung or a story retold. It is another thing altogether, as Greg Urban demonstrates, to think about cultural motion when something new is created-a new song or a new story. And this, the creating of new culture, is the overarching value of the contemporary world, as well as the guiding principle of the capitalist entrepreneur.
From the Declaration of Independence to the movie Babe, from the Amazon River to the film studio, from microscopic studies of the words making up myths and books to the large-scale forces of conquest, conversion, and globalization that drive history, Urban follows the clues to a startling revelation: "metaculture" makes the modern, entrepreneurial form of culture possible. In Urban’s work we see how metaculture, in its relationship to newness, explains the peculiar shape of modern society and its institutions, from the prevalence of taste and choice to the processes of the public sphere, to the centrality of persuasion and hegemony within the nation.
New Threats to Freedom
In the twentieth century, free people faced a number of mortal threats,ranging from despotism, fascism, and communism to the looming menace of global terrorism. While the struggle against some of these overt dangers continues, some insidious new threats seem to have slipped past our intellectual defenses. These often unchallenged threats are quietly eroding our hard-won freedoms and, in some cases, are widely accepted as beneficial.
In New Threats to Freedom, editor and author Adam Bellow has assembled an all-star lineup of innovative thinkers to challenge these insidious new threats. Some leap into already raging debates on issues such as Sharia law in the West, the rise of transnationalism, and the regulatory state. Others turn their attention to less obvious threats, such as the dogma of fairness, the failed promises of the blogosphere, and the triumph of behavioral psychology.
These threats are very real and very urgent, yet this collection avoids projecting an air of doom and gloom. Rather, it provides a blueprint for intellectual resistance so that modern defenders of liberty may better understand their enemies, more effectively fight to preserve the meaning of freedom, and more surely carry its light to a new generation.
What are the new threats to freedom?
when has authority not claimed, when imposing trammels and curbs on liberty, that it does so for a wider good and a greater happiness?” —Christopher Hitchens
“The regulatory state amounts to a regressive tax that penalizes small independent producers and protects
the status quo.” —Max Borders
“Europe tends to favor stability over democracy, America democracy over stability.” —Daniel Hannan
“The value of free expression is perceived to be at odds with goals that were considered ‘more important,’ like inclusiveness, diversity, nondiscrimination, and tolerance.” —Greg Lukianoff
“The masses cannot ultimately be free: only the individual can be.” —Robert D. Kaplan
“That old bugbear of postwar sociology—the mob-self—is now a reality. In a participatory/popularity culture, the freedom to think and act for ourselves becomes harder and harder to achieve.” —Lee Siegel
“As traditional marriage declines, the ranks of single women are growing, and increasingly these women are substituting the security of a husband with the security of the state.” —Jessica Gavora
“Ending the freedom to fail is a mean-spirited attack on the freedom to succeed.” —Michael Goodwin
“The only solution to the new threats to American press freedom lies in organized resistance.” —Katherine Mangu-Ward
“The new behaviorism isn’t interested in protecting people’s freedom to choose; on the contrary, its core principle is the idea that only by allowing an expert elite to limit choice can individuals learn to break their bad habits.” —Christine Rosen
“There’s a world of Travis Bickles out there, and they’re not driving cabs. They’re reading blogs.” —Ron Rosenbaum
“The first amendment ensures not that speech will be fair, but that it will be free. It cannot be both.” —David Mamet
Join the conversation about these issues at www.newthreatstofreedom.com
Writing in Life magazine in February 1941, Henry Luce memorably announced the arrival of “The American Century.” The phrase caught on, as did the belief that America’s moment was at hand. Yet as Andrew J. Bacevich makes clear, that century has now ended, the victim of strategic miscalculation, military misadventures, and economic decline. To take stock of the short American Century and place it in historical perspective, Bacevich has assembled a richly provocative range of perspectives.What did this age of reputed American preeminence signify? What caused its premature demise? What legacy remains in its wake? Distinguished historians Jeffry Frieden, Akira Iriye, David Kennedy, Walter LaFeber, Jackson Lears, Eugene McCarraher, Emily Rosenberg, and Nikhil Pal Singh offer illuminating answers to these questions. Achievement and failure, wisdom and folly, calculation and confusion all make their appearance in essays that touch on topics as varied as internationalism and empire, race and religion, consumerism and globalization.As the United States grapples with protracted wars, daunting economic uncertainty, and pressing questions about exactly what role it should play in a rapidly changing world, understanding where the nation has been and how it got where it is today is critical. What did the forging of the American Century—with its considerable achievements but also its ample disappointments and missed opportunities—ultimately yield? That is the question this important volume answers.
Social and Political Philosophy was first published in 1982. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
In today's consumer-driven society, extolling the virtues of thrift might seem like a quaint relic of a bygone era. Americans have embraced the ideas of easy credit, instant gratification, and spending as a tool to combat everything from recessions to the effects of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. In David Blankenhorn's new compendium, Thrift: A Cyclopedia, he reminds readers of a time when thrift was one of America's most cherished cultural values.
Ethnocentrism—our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups—pervades societies around the world. Surprisingly, though, few scholars have explored its role in political life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap with Us Against Them, their definitive explanation of how ethnocentrism shapes American public opinion.
Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam explore its impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, including the war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance. Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.
Browse our collection.
See BiblioVault's publisher services.
Files for college accessibility offices.
UChicago Accessibility Resources
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2024
The University of Chicago Press