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Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline [Paperback]

Robert H. Bork
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robert Bork will go down as one of history's footnotes. Nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1987, he was voted down by the Senate following a no-holds barred confirmation fight. Almost a decade later, he returns to reopen old wounds with Slouching towards Gomorrah, an extended attack against everything liberal. From pop culture and our universities to the church (Protestant and Roman Catholic) and the Supreme Court--the very institution he once fought so hard to join--Bork finds fault wherever he looks. This is a bitter book from a passionate man who has very little good to say about the world he lives in. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Controversial former federal court judge Bork (The Tempting of America) has produced a wide-ranging but turgid jeremiad, citing mostly familiar, conservative explanations for American decline. Thus he attacks multiculturalism, racial and sexual politics, the Supreme Court and the criminal justice and welfare systems, among others, often relying on the work of critics such as Charles Murray, Thomas Sowell, Richard Bernstein and Christopher Lasch. Bork's tone can be overwrought: "[M]odern liberalism... is what fascism looks like when it has captured significant institutions, most notably the universities." He also offers a knee-jerk condemnation of rock and rap. Despite such verbiage, Bork does strike a chord with his criticisms that individualism and egalitarianism have loosened social ties and weakened America, and with his warnings that recent decisions on assisted suicide may have broad, Roe v. Wade-like implications. Several arguments should spur debate. Bork disagrees with those who call for greater economic equality?"it is not that America is odd compared to Sweden, but that Sweden is odd compared to us." He believes that constitutional legitimacy can only be reclaimed if we pass a constitutional amendment allowing Congress to override federal and state court decisions. He also supports censorship of "the most violent and sexually explicit material," though he doesn't suggest how it might be implemented. Bork finds some hope in the rise of religious conservatism, and proposes a multiple-front strategy to reclaim American institutions. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

With its emphasis on outcomes vs. opportunity and on personal gratification, liberalism is destroying the cultural fabric of America, says Bork, author of the best-selling The Tempting of America (LJ 11/1/89). The liberal elites that control all major social institutions, most significantly the universities, churches, media, and government bureaucracies, regard morality as an impediment to personal convenience. Bork regards the 1960s as a loathsome decade when moral integrity was destroyed and the current leaders of these elites were spawned. He details how these "barbarians" have unleashed torrents of political correctness, radical feminism, anti-intellectualism, and affirmative action on society. Writing with an ardent certitude that true conservatives will applaud while those with moderate and liberal leanings will regard as demagoguery, Bork states his views effectively, but he repeatedly uses examples of excess to define mainstream liberalism. For an excellent liberal view of the culture wars, see Todd Gitlin's The Twilight of Common Dreams (Holt, 1995). Strongly recommended for public libraries.
-?Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Spurned for a seat on the Supreme Court, Bork has become a cogent commentator on U.S. culture and politics. Here he has the former in mind, although, in his eyes, one bane of American culture since the 1960s has been the politicization of nearly everything. Bork blames the twin thrusts of modern liberalism--radical individualism and radical egalitarianism--for the cultural decay he finds in an increasingly obscene pop culture, rising illegitimacy and long-term welfare dependency, dangerous leniency with violent offenders, abortion and euthanasia, feminist lies and intimidation, legalized racial discrimination (affirmative action), dumbed-down education, antireligious bias in the courts and the press, and socially disintegrative multiculturalism. Before and after several chapters on how liberalism produces those maladies, Bork discusses the circumstances that allow liberalism to circumvent democracy: liberalism predominates among opinion-molding intellectuals, foundation executives, university professors, and bureaucrats. Most damagingly, Bork says, the federal judiciary is rotten with liberalism and has become the instrument with which unpopular liberal measures are forced upon the public. Bork cannot see that anything systemic can be done to change the judiciary. Rather, he sees hope for democracy in the resurgence of religion and the determination of religious people to influence public policy. Forthright and magisterial, this is a fine summary of "social conservativism," one those who want to understand that position should read first. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A former judge's stinging indictment of the havoc postmodern liberalism has wrought on the state of the American union. An eloquent, often elegant, advocate, Bork (whose ultimately aborted nomination to the US Supreme Court unleashed an ideological firestorm in mid1987) defines latter-day liberalism as an ad hoc coalition of cultural elites (academics, ecclesiastics, entertainers, filmmakers, foundation professionals, journalists, jurists, public-interest groups, et al.) committed to a radical egalitarianism and unfettered individualism. In sorrow as well as anger, he assesses the demonstrably corrosive impact these no-fault credos have had on a host of activities and institutions. Cases in point range from the violently misogynistic lyrics of rap music through permissive sexual attitudes that have escalated teen pregnancy rates, the debasement of university curricula with trivial or spurious courses of study, insistence on equality of outcomes as well as opportunity, and the emergence of moral relativism as an acceptable alternative to traditional values. Citing an increasing incidence of self-segregation by ethnic minorities, a discernible rise in anti-intellectualism, antipathy toward mainstream religions, the left's intolerance of dissent, and a half-hearted approach to crime and punishment, Bork (The Tempting of America, 1989, etc.) decries liberalism's capacity for divisiveness. He also condemns ``killing for convenience'' (abortion, assisted suicide) and activist judges who usurp the power of the people with decisions that owe more to political correctness than statutory or constitutional authority. The author is by no means sanguine on the score of whether the US can reverse its long-term slide. To do so, he concludes, the populace will have to regain control over increasingly coercive government bureaucracies and court systems that have been setting an agenda decidedly at odds with majority wishes. A thoughtful conservative's devastating judgment on intemperate liberalism, one that seems sure to reopen the bitter national debate over individual rights and responsibilities. ($100,000 ad/promo; author tour; radio satellite tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Mr. Bork rolls into the culture wars firmly on the side of traditional values ... Everywhere he seeks to slay the left-wing dragon. -- The New York Times Book Review, Richard Epstein

This book, which became a (perhaps) unexpected bestseller, is a catalogue raisonnie of the legacy of the 1960s, and in particular of that decade's sudden explosion of hatred toward this country on the part of some of its most privileged citizens, the children of the liberal middle class. To read Judge Bork's succinct account in the opening pages of the events he witnessed on the campus of Yale University, where he then taught in the law school, is to recall the surprise and confusion some of us felt when we first beheld that strange spectacle: indulged and self-indulgent college students portraying themselves, in all apparent sincerity, as victims of the cruelest tyranny, while their elders, professors and deans, unable to oppose or even answer them, suffered their accusations meekly or added their own voices to the chorus of condemnation.

Some of us thought these passions were too shallow to survive the moment, and would soon be spent. But of course we could not have been more wrong. As Bork writes, what took place then was self-sustaining--not merely a spasm of disgust at the escalating war in Vietnam but a "revolt against the entire American culture." This revolt soon turned into a steady state of siege, either directly or implicitly coming to dominate most reasoned discourse on American life.

Chapter by chapter, Slouching Towards Gomorrah methodically takes us through the sectors of our experience which have been infected by the excesses of post-1960s liberalism: from popular culture to crime, illegitimacy, the welfare system, abortion, euthanasia, sexuality and sexual roles, race, intelligence, religion, and morality. On each of these topics Bork brings to bear an astonishing range of information and argument. -- Commentary Magazine, April 1997, Joseph Adelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" --William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

Welcome to America, 1996, and the "rough beast" that the visionary poet Yeats foresaw in 1919 is now a monster of decadence, a plague several generations in gestation and we as a nation, are now slouching, not towards Bethlehem, but towards Gomorrah, the biblical city burned to the ground for the sinfulness of its people.

In Robert H. Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah, one of our nation's most distinguished conservative scholars offers a prophetic and unprecedented view of a culture in decline, a nation in such serious moral trouble that its very foundation is crumbling. Of our own president Bork writes:

"Thirty years ago, Clinton's behavior would have been absolutely disqualifying. Since the 1992 election the public has learned far more about what is known euphemistically, as the 'character issue'. Yet none of this appears to affect Clinton's popularity. It is difficult to conclude that something about our moral perceptions and reactions has changed profoundly. If that change is permanent, the implication for our future is bleak."

The root of our decline, Bork argues, is the rise of modern liberalism, which stresses the dual forces of radical egalitarianism (the equality of outcomes rather than opportunities) and radical individualism (the drastic reduction of limits to personal gratification). The roots of modern liberalism are deeply embedded in the last two and a half centuries - and perhaps - arise from the very nature of Western civilization itself.

From the collapse of popular culture to the general weakening of intellect, from the role of the Supreme Court as an agent of modern liberalism to the trouble in religion, from the assault of radical feminism on American institutions and freedoms, to the "killing for convenience" of abortion and euthanasia, Bork has brilliantly encapsulated a nation and a culture on the brink. He courageously sounds an alarm for all Americans.

To understand our current plight and the direction in which we are moving, Bork believes we must look to the sixties, a decade in which the moral integrity of our nation came under full blown assault. We have never recovered from that attack because the radicals of the Sixties have taken over or heavily modified the cultural institutions they once sought to destroy.

We can accept our fate and try to insulate ourselves and our loved ones from the devastating effects of a degenerating culture or we can choose to halt the beast, to oppose modern liberalism in every arena. In the view of Robert Bork, an understanding of our problem and the will to resist may be our only hope.

Robert H. Bork received his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Chicago. He has been a partner at a major law firm, taught constitutional law as the Alexander M. Bickell Professor of Public Law at the Yale law school, served as Solicitor General and as Acting Attorney General of the United States and served as a United States Court of Appeals judge. Author of the bestselling The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law, he and his wife live in Washington DC, where he is the John M. Olin Scholar in Legal Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

"A tour de force... a must-read for anyone concerned about the state of American society at the close of the twentieth century." --Ralph Reed Executive Director, Christian Coalition
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert H. Bork has served as Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General of the United States, and as a United States Court of Appeals judge. A former professor of law at Yale Law School, he is currently a professor at Ave Maria School of Law, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the Tad and Dianne Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Also the author of the bestselling The Tempting of America, he lives with his wife in McLean, Virginia.

From AudioFile

This is a straightforward reading of Bork's condemnation of America's modern trends toward political and moral chaos. Reader Barrett Whitener projects a confident newscaster's voice, mildly expressive, neither flamboyant nor monotonic. With no dialogue and no characters to distinguish, Whitener does a competent job, never stumbling no matter how difficult the terminology. The book does not lend itself to histrionics anyway. The advantage to the listener is in the subject itself: Bork traces the failures of liberalism deep into America's past, probing both the ideological and political/structural reasons for its recent development, especially the explosions of the 1960's. D.W. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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