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After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State (New Forum Books) [Kindle Edition]

Paul Edward Gottfried
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this trenchant challenge to social engineering, Paul Gottfried analyzes a patricide: the slaying of nineteenth-century liberalism by the managerial state. Many people, of course, realize that liberalism no longer connotes distributed powers and bourgeois moral standards, the need to protect civil society from an encroaching state, or the virtues of vigorous self-government. Many also know that today's "liberals" have far different goals from those of their predecessors, aiming as they do largely to combat prejudice, to provide social services and welfare benefits, and to defend expressive and "lifestyle" freedoms. Paul Gottfried does more than analyze these historical facts, however. He builds on them to show why it matters that the managerial state has replaced traditional liberalism: the new regimes of social engineers, he maintains, are elitists, and their rule is consensual only in the sense that it is unopposed by any widespread organized opposition.

Throughout the western world, increasingly uprooted populations unthinkingly accept centralized controls in exchange for a variety of entitlements. In their frightening passivity, Gottfried locates the quandary for traditionalist and populist adversaries of the welfare state. How can opponents of administrative elites show the public that those who provide, however ineptly, for their material needs are the enemies of democratic self-rule and of independent decision making in family life? If we do not wake up, Gottfried warns, the political debate may soon be over, despite sporadic and ideologically confused populist rumblings in both Europe and the United States.

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Editorial Reviews


"After Liberalism is no angry screed, but a dense, probing work full of insight from the author's seeming encyclopedic knowledge of Western thought."--World

"The central fact of the nineteenth century was the emergence of the working class. The central fact of the twentieth century is the emergence of a managerial "New Class" elite, reshaping all modern democracies in its own interest. Gottfried's is a gold-standard analysis of this extraordinary phenomenon, heavily encrusted with sparkling jewels of intellectual history."--Peter Brimelow, Senior Editor, Forbes Magazine

"Well-written, very learned, and informative. . . ."--Paul Seaton, Society


Although I disagree with the author on many of his points, I strongly recommend it. Gottfried's thesis is refreshingly novel, strongly advanced, and clearly presented. Whether one is interested in the future of the welfare state or family values, or the economic and social future of America, this is a book one wishes to read. (Amitai Etzioni, author of "The New Golden Rule" )

Product Details

  • File Size: 1321 KB
  • Print Length: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 2, 2001)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DT16OFM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,099,558 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant June 24, 2001
Paul Gottfried has written a fascinating work on the intersection between liberalism, democracy, and what is often called the "managerial state." As Prof. Gottfried tells us, many see contemporary democracy as a valueless search to balance competing group interests. One group jockeys against another with the result that a compromise agreeable to no one is reached. While this is a partial truth, it is certainly not the whole truth. Ever since liberalism ceased being liberal and became socialist, a managerial class has been intent on imposing its values on an often unwilling public.
It is Prof. Gottfried's goal to analyze this phenomenon and tell us how it came about. There is a particularly profound chapter entitled "In Search of a Liberal Essence." Like Masons tracing their rituals and doctrine allegedly back to the Egyptians, contemporary liberals are intent on showing that their values go back to the Greeks. So John Dewey supposedly becomes a follower of John Locke and Socrates. Of course, free market liberals like von Mises are excluded from the pantheon of true liberals. However, it was Dewey and his fellow progressives who broke with liberalism and whose ideas marked a watershed. It is with them that planning became accepted by almost everyone. Even supposed conservatives do little to dismantle the welfare state once they take power. As Prof. Gottfried states at the end of this chapter, the search for the liberal essence is elusive.
Prof. Gottfried's book is not narrowly academic. He provides a number of contemporary examples showing how the managerial elite imposes its values on society.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars somber political assessment February 3, 2000
In this sobering analysis of the pluralist welfare state,Professor Gottfried castigates statists for dishonesty inexpropriating the term "liberal" from its original meaning as defending individual property rights and maintaining a civil order with culturally and religiously formed social expectations to marginalizing any dissent from the managerial welfare state and its deliberate undermining of once commonly shared moral precepts. He explains how democracy became subverted from community-based self-rule with restricted participation to a mass plebiscite that votes itself largesse from the public treasury. By diluting civic participation from direct involvement in community affairs to a universal right to vote without further responsibility, cultural insurgents were better able to elect demagogues who could promise something for nothing. And Gottfried warns the reader that despite some populist grumbling, the elitist nomenklatura controlling the levers of political power and media influence operate largely without significant opposition to the goals of transforming society from the independent and culturally homogenous bourgeois classes that honor values of thrift, industry and propriety with a motley crowd of peoples who share no common interest except demands for special favors bestowed by an ever expanding and intrusive centralizing government that deliberately blurs distinctions between state functions and public involvement in civic affairs.
After Liberalism describes the pedigree of traditional liberal political philosophy, which included support of a free market and restraints on undisciplined appetites, primarily by informal enforcement of social and cultural norms. The government was afforded the limited rôles of civil order and martial pursuits.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enslaving Us Softly August 4, 2001
This book is poignant and disturbing. It shows how modern liberals have created the "managerial state," which is author's euphemism for the "welfare state." This state has been expanding throughout the twentieth century, reaching frightful proportions. What is most troubling is not its recurring inefficiency, but rather the power that the state has acquired vis-a-vis society. The pretext is protection of the individual set adrift in the industrial society, the rhetoric is that of compassion and assistance, the reality--an ever more powerful state that crushes individuality.
The author notes how cunning the proponents of modern liberalism have been by not talking about things as they are and substituting the rhetoric of compassion for a plain statement of facts. "The uninterrupted exercise of its power may depend upon not talking plainly about such unclean matters. Yet, it is worth the effort to look beyond euphemism to see how political power is exercised. Behind the mission to sensitize and teach 'human rights' lies the largely unacknowledged right to shape and reshape people's lives. Any serious appraisal of the managerial regime must consider first and foremost the extent of its control--and the relative powerlessness of its critics." This assessment is right on target.
This book is written primarily for other scholars and graduate students, and the reading can get dense and heavy on proper names and references to ideological doctrines. Yet, the political bias in academia being what it is, I am a university press agreed to publish this book. I found this book perceptive, erudite, and enjoyable. Pick it up today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and clear exposition of a thorny topic
Concise and well-written, without obfuscating academic jargon, but not condescending towards readers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by advokat
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rise of the Managerial State.
_After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State_ by Paul Gottfried is a very powerful and important book which shows specifically how a discontinuity existing between... Read more
Published on August 14, 2004 by New Age of Barbarism
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering Assessment of the Therapeutic Managerial State
~After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State~ is a thoughtful and erudite work, which offers a sobering assessment of the therapeutic managerial state. Read more
Published on June 18, 2003 by R. Setliff
5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable guide
*After Liberalism* is the best treatment yet published of the historical deformation of liberalism -- the replacement of bourgeois classical liberalism by the managerial socialism... Read more
Published on March 1, 2003 by Daniel P McCarthy
2.0 out of 5 stars Yesterday's News
Warmed over Weber. The usual "nice" distinctions between liberalism and democracy, and the endorsement of populism a la the neocons and Leo Strauss. Read more
Published on February 18, 2003 by Panopticonman
5.0 out of 5 stars somber, learned, even-handed, effective
Gottfried methodically deconstructs what he terms the "pluralist ideology" of the Liberal state. He does this by:
1. Read more
Published on January 11, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars History Reformed?
The initial thrust of the book (the revisioning of the term "liberal") opens historical criticism for many set definitions that we now take for granted. Read more
Published on May 2, 2000 by Christopher S. Brandt
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing
This is dispepsia posing as analysis. The author has identified real issues, particularly the effect of what he calls the "managerial state" on democratic institutions. Read more
Published on February 1, 2000 by Sheila Suess Kennedy
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