Democracy and Populism

Democracy and Populism

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Democracy and Populism
    Book Description:

    This intensely interesting-and troubling-book is the product of a lifetime of reflection and study of democracy. In it, John Lukacs addresses the questions of how our democracy has changed and why we have become vulnerable to the shallowest possible demagoguery.Lukacs contrasts the political systems, movements, and ideologies that have bedeviled the twentieth century: democracy, Liberalism, nationalism, fascism, Bolshevism, National Socialism, populism. Reflecting on American democracy, Lukacs describes its evolution from the eighteenth century to its current form-a dangerous and possibly irreversible populism. This involves, among other things, the predominance of popular sentiment over what used to be public opinion. This devolution has happened through the gigantic machinery of publicity, substituting propaganda-and entertainment-for knowledge, and ideology for a sense of history. It is a kind of populism that relies on nationalism and militarism to hold society together.Lukacs's observations are original, biting, timely, sure to inspire lively debate about the precarious state of American democracy today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18094-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1
    (pp. 3-74)

    Alexis de tocqueville was a visionary, and a historical, even more than a political, thinker. He finished and published the first volume of hisDemocracy in Americaone hundred and seventy years ago. Note the honest precision of his title:De la démocratie en Amérique:“About democracy in America.” His theme was democracy, as it then existed in America. His first volume was mainly about America, his second volume, published five years later, mainly about democracy. For us this second volume is even more relevant and timely than the first. His contemporaries did not think so; that second volume was...

  5. 2
    (pp. 77-140)

    Remnants of old-fashioned patriotism (so often inseparable from gentlemanly behavior) existed and even survived the catastrophe of the First World War. But the great tides of nationalism and of populism preceded the war, dominated it, reached unprecedented peaks afterit and then during the Second World War. After that their strength seemed to abate—somewhat, here and there—but kept on existing, often underneath and not on the visible surface of events. We are not near the end of it, not at all.

    But let us look, once more, at 1914, and at the world before it. Let us begin with...

  6. 3
    (pp. 143-200)

    In 1945 Hitler and Mussolini were gone, Stalin less than eight years thereafter. The United States was on the top of the world. And the Americanization of the world leaped forward, soon in full swing.

    An interesting question arises.When was America at its zenith? 1918, or 1945, or 1989? In 1918 the United States did not have to share the victory with Russia. (It had to be shared with Britain and France but this mattered not much: what mattered was the desire of the American people to withdraw from Europe, for twenty years, while the Americanization of mass culture went...

  7. 4
    (pp. 203-244)

    Anew world is now coming about, a new historic age, in which the predominance of America is a factor but only a factor, an instrument for a different confection of events. “A new science of politics” …—well, not really A Science, and perhaps not even “politics”. However: human nature does not truly change. We have seen that, among other things, “conservative” and “liberal“ have lost much, almost all, of their meanings. But “Right” and “Left,” in their widest and deepest sense, still remain withus, especially at their extremes. And now let me state something that may be startling. One...

  8. Index
    (pp. 245-248)