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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How many political beliefs?
If the terms Liberal, neo-liberal, gentry liberal, neo-con, Progressive, and Conservative confuse you, you’re not alone. Siegel describes when, why and how those terms came into use in the United States. If you’re curious about all the variations of liberal and conservative we have today in the US, Fred tells you in this short book.

His main thesis...
Published 6 months ago by JackBluegrass

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately Not Persuasive
In "The Revolt Against the Masses," Fred Siegel argues that modern liberalism is an outgrowth of post-WWI dissatisfaction with the authoritarian presidency of Woodrow Wilson. He contrasts his reading of history with the common belief that liberalism dates back only as far as the New Deal. The first half of the book is extremely quote-heavy as Siegel reproduces...
Published 4 months ago by Samuel J. Sharp


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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How many political beliefs?, March 6, 2014
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This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
If the terms Liberal, neo-liberal, gentry liberal, neo-con, Progressive, and Conservative confuse you, you’re not alone. Siegel describes when, why and how those terms came into use in the United States. If you’re curious about all the variations of liberal and conservative we have today in the US, Fred tells you in this short book.

His main thesis is that the highest and the lowest classes of society today have joined together in a struggle against the middle class ("a top/bottom coalition"). That idea may seem crazy to you. However, he lays out enough facts to convince you, if you’re really willing to consider them, while comparing them to your own political beliefs.

My one complaint is that the author doesn’t list specific references for all the statements and books he quotes. The vague name and year given for a person or group’s writings, speeches, or books on politics makes deeper searches harder for us, but not impossible.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Krugmanites will not be amused, March 25, 2014
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This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
A wonderful book, with some deficiencies. Fred Siegel has obliterated the conceit of today's liberals, now self-styled as "Progressives," namely that they derive their ideology from the first generation of the great progressives, filtered through the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the Kennedys, and the Great Society. No, today's liberals are in fact but present links in a long chain of writers and thinkers, especially after WWI, who loathed and detested the middle class of shopkeepers and enterprisers ("Rotarians" and "Babbitts" being the most common pejorative epithets for Americans), who continue to strive to place American government in the hands of an elite corps of We Know Best technocrats, and who yearn for a European decayed aristocracy and welfare statism. It details, step by step, how the Democratic party, far more than the Republican, has lost its respect for, need of, and interest in the American middle class, clinging to guns and religion. The book is thus an exposé; the exposed will not much like it. But you will. It follows a chronological development, with many illustrative examples.

It is witty, sharp, and lucid. But it needed better editing. There a numerous repetitions, typographical errors, and mixed or inapt metaphors. Reaching back to Plato's Republic would have provided greater historical depth, for his "Guardians" are the antecedents to Wells's "samurai," as is the whole notion of utopian central planning by a trained elite. Of course, for Plato, it was only a thought experiment. Siegel does trace throughout a thin thread of the free love movement that began with some of the original progressives, but I think it should be made a much larger part of the whole fabric. His irony is spot on when he notes the liberal passion for unlimited sexual freedom in an ever more tightly-controlled state. Finally, the work is peppered with references, allusions, and quotes, but there are no notes or citations. That should certainly be corrected in a second edition.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FRED SIEGEL'S EXCELLENT DISCUSSION OF ELITIST 'ROOTS' OF AMERICAN LIBERALISM, April 4, 2014
This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class is one of the most important books written about American politics in the past fifty years.

The author, Fred Siegel, is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a think tank that focuses on urban policy and politics. He also serves as a professor of history and the humanities at Cooper Union and is a contributor to numerous publications, including the New York Post (where he has a weekly column), The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Commonwealth, Tikkun, and TELOS.

The Revolt Against the Masses tells the story of how what some think of as liberalism is, in fact, a form of arrogant elitism modeled on an American form of aristocracy long associated with European statism.

“Today’s brand of liberalism, led by Barack Obama, has displaced the old Main Street private-sector middle class with a new middle class composed of public-sector workers allied with crony capitalists and the country’s arbiters of elite style and taste,” the book reveals.

Siegel describes how the American left turned away from its progressive roots between WWI and WWII, espousing a cynical and anti-American attitude that embraced experts and despised democracy and the average man. Siegel writes that the liberalism that emerged from 1919, taking its cue from H.L. Mencken, who sided with Germany in WWI and labeled Americans who supported “Wilson’s War” as “boobs” and “peasants" was "contemptuous of American culture and politics." He added:

For the liberals, the war years had revealed that American society and democracy were themselves agents of repression. These sentiments deepened during the 1920s and have been an ongoing undercurrent in liberalism ever since. ... For liberals, the great revelation of 1919 that they carried into the 1920s was that middle-class society at large, and not just the Bible Belters with their restrictive mores, was to blame for their subjugation. Their disdain for Main Street was matched by their contempt for the detritus of urban popular culture.

The Revolt Against the Masses tells the story of the leaders of modern American liberalism--Herbert Croly, Randolph Bourne, H.G. Wells, Sinclair Lewis, and Mencken--who sought to discard America’s most sacred principles of democracy and the rule of law for a bastardized version of European elitism, with decisions made by experts and social scientists.

“Siegel traces the development of liberalism from the cultural critics of the post-WWI years to the gentry liberals of today, and he shows how the common thread is scorn for the middle-class and for America itself,” notes author Michael Barone in his cover note. “This is a stunningly original--and convincing--book.”

The Revolt Against the Masses also identifies modern exponents of the new liberal elitism, influential figures such as John Kenneth Galbraith, who, “more than any other liberal, was able to meld the two central strands of 1920s liberalism: a Menkenesque contempt for the burghers and an undue regard for technocrats who cloaked their prejudices in the language of social science.”

Last week, I wrote a column for Zero Hedge entitled "A Political History of 'Too Big to Fail'" that connected Siegel’s excellent analysis and the modern tendency to bail out large banks. Ultimately, TBTF is about bailing out institutions that support the agenda of key liberal elites in partnership with Washington:

The notion of free-market capitalism driving the growth of the US economy and the American dream after WWII was a convenient fiction. Behind this facade, generations of liberal political operatives worked to realize the dreams of a society led by an enlightened elite with heroic overtones that bear close resemblance to the fascist era of 1920s Europe. Men like Herbert Crowley, editor and co-founder of The New Republic, advanced the ideal of a secular priesthood that would Europeanize America. He envisioned an elite vanguard of intellectuals, writers and scientists who would not be swayed by outmoded ideas of popular democracy and individual freedom. And the mechanism for advancing the new liberal agenda was government.

Both liberals and conservatives alike need to read The Revolt Against the Masses. For conservatives, this book provides ample ammunition to use it, characterizing and countering the attacks of the liberal elite against people of faith, small business, and civil libertarians--the three pillars of a future conservative majority. Every conservative in Congress and across America needs to read The Revolt Against the Masses.

For liberals and those who call themselves “progressives,” however, The Revolt Against the Masses is an equally important resource. Siegel describes how the ideals of 19th Century Progressivism were hijacked a century ago by an arrogant elite who despise working people and enrich themselves at public expense. Barack Obama is the ultimate example of this elitist tendency in American politics.

The majority of Americans who call themselves conservatives--and liberals--will be shocked and outraged by many of the revelations in this concise and well-written book.

[...]
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Siegel accurately reflects the modern liberal, March 3, 2014
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This book gives a clear, rational and well-researched argument that liberalism is nothing more than pure snobbery and elitism - something I have suspected for a long time.

I work in an industry dominated by those on the left, and their contempt for traditional American middle class values, religion, even shopping habits could not be more obvious. Sometimes it can be humorous to watch them try to outdo each other as they boast of their purity in political thought and good taste.

They detest simplicity. Everything must be "nuanced," as if that alone demonstrates intellectual and aesthetic superiority. Yet when they are asked why they believe what they do, they suddenly lose all ability to defend themselves, resorting to leftist memes and name-calling. Perhaps somewhere deep inside, they know that their ideology is built upon a "better than thou" attitude, and challenges to their belief system create cognitive dissonance that causes them to lash out at those who question them.

Siegel's book resonates with my own experiences and suspicions, and makes a convincing historical argument that modern liberalism is nothing more than elitism underneath a veneer of compassion. A must read!
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43 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brillant and accurate!!, February 17, 2014
This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
Mr. Siegel has hit the nail squarely on the head. There is so much truth in this book that it ought to be required reading.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately Not Persuasive, May 8, 2014
This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
In "The Revolt Against the Masses," Fred Siegel argues that modern liberalism is an outgrowth of post-WWI dissatisfaction with the authoritarian presidency of Woodrow Wilson. He contrasts his reading of history with the common belief that liberalism dates back only as far as the New Deal. The first half of the book is extremely quote-heavy as Siegel reproduces text from a small number of writers such as Sinclair Lewis, H.G. Wells, and Herbert Croly. Siegel offers passing commentary on these authors' works, but does not tie their ideas back to political action and does not demonstrate just how much influence these authors may have actually had. At best, we can agree with Siegel that some early liberals held dismissive views of American culture and middle class values. But this fact does not get us very far, and does not support the subtitle's declaration that liberalism has undermined the middle class.

The book is a decent overview of the left's intellectual movements from the 1930s to the present. But I suspect that many readers who finish the book will be struck by how the theory of liberal aristocratic snobbery so well set out in the introduction does not seem as convincing by book's end.
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74 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars agenda's, February 9, 2014
This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
the first three reviewers have far more of an agenda than Siegel, and tip their hands in their review mainly of conservatism , but NOT the book.
Really not reviews at all , but diatribes.
Read the book, decide for yourself; don't accept a review with an agenda
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book., September 6, 2014
This review is from: The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Hardcover)
Oscar Wilde and D.H. Lawrence turned up their noses at the bourgoise, while praising poets, according to the author. It won’t take a lot of convincing to tell me these men were full of themselves, because bourgoise money is what paid for their education and financed the production of Wilde’s plays. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis satirized the middle class, but it was middle class money that paid for their education. The author uses the heroine of Lewis’ novel Main Street as an example of dissatisfaction with small town life. But would she prefer living in a subdivision? Remember the town of Maycomb, Alabama, from To Kill a Mockingbird? That small town may seem dull, but there was plenty of social life for everyone, and the kids could walk to and from school.
In the 1920’s, the New Republic’s Waldo Frank (NY born) voiced his disgust with the “human waste” that rode the subway home. But what had he done to contribute to progress? When Lewis turned up his nose at small town life, would he have preferred to live in one of Eugene O’Neill’s plays? Would he have preferred an apartment above the Last Chance Saloon, in a strip populated by hookers, crooked cops, gamblers, and drunks?
I agree with the author’s criticism of society’s critics. Everyone chooses to live where they feel the need. Some like the city, some prefer a house, some don’t mind the long drive to work. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis were within their rights to satirize the middle class, but they never worked to make positive changes. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for Ivy League graduates to become teachers in rough, failing schools. Who’s opinion counts more?
I don’t, however, agree with his use of Leopold & Lobe as an example of elitism run amok. Both men got life in prison, and although they were spared the death penalty, they didn’t get special treatment just because their families were wealthy. Clarence Darrow’s argument that they killed to satisfy intellectual desire didn’t influence the judge, who was probably against the death penalty anyway. A better argument for the author would be the Jack Henry Abbott case, now that was an example of intellectual stupidity gone wild. Norman Mailer fought to free a convicted murderer, over the psychiatrist’s objection, and a month later he committed another murder. Call it “radical chic” if you like, but Mailer was so awed by Abbott’s writing talent that he overlooked the man’s violent nature. At least the author rails against Amiri Baraka and other black intellectual hucksters who’ve killed any chance of progress.
Keep in mind, in the early 60’s, Baraka was named “LeRoi Jones” and was living in Manhattan’s west Village, married to a white woman and a staple in the beatnik scene. With the death of Malcolm X, he suddenly became a great black radical.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, but difficult, June 6, 2014
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A difficult read because of too many references, quotes, and individuals. However, it is a well of information, and covers the intended subject. It is worth the additional time it takes to assimilate the information.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the Struggle, May 28, 2014
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Well... that explains it. There's a reason why people with a liberal perspective think they're so much better, brighter, and worthy of life, than the rest of humanity, and this book spells out why.

It certainly isn't for the casual reader, though, in that the vocabulary used is quite challenging.

I recommend this book to anyone who really wants to understand from where the left gets its systemic unearned moral superiority.
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The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class
The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class by Frederick F. Siegel (Hardcover - January 28, 2014)
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