From Publishers Weekly
In his second paragraph, Ellis quickly points out that he is a lifelong Democrat, a "card-carrying member" of the ACLU, an environmentalist, a supporter of women's rights and a federalist. If it seems rather defensive, that is, in some way, the point of his book. Here, Ellis (American Political Cultures) offers a provocative critique of left-wing movements from 19th-century utopians to abolitionists to the old left of the inter-war era, to the New Left of the Vietnam era and, finally, to contemporary radical feminists like Catharine MacKinnon and certain environmental activists. Through an examination of speeches, books and articles, Ellis tries to document how varied ideologues abandoned their egalitarian principles in favor of rigid political correctness, sometimes slipping into violence and elitism. At root, Ellis sees a tendency to romanticize "the People"?"those powerful, natural persons whose heroism needs no drug of fame or applause to enable them to continue: those humble, mighty parts of the mass," to quote American Communist Michael Gold?while, to quote Gold again, denigrating "the simple souls who save their money, plod to offices, and plan college careers for their children." This is a largely academic study that attempts to lump in Walt Whitman and Tom Hayden with various extremists. The problem is Ellis's arguments often tend to be as reductionist and simplistic as the radical rhetoric he criticizes.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Richard J. Ellis is a liberal who acknowledges a certain amount of discomfort writing a book that is critical of the left. He nonetheless does a good--often devastating--job of it." -- Washington Times