- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (July 22, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060747676
- ISBN-13: 978-0060747671
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,974,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture Paperback – July 22, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
More than any other cause, economic prosperity transformed the United States after World War II into a nation unlike any other in recorded history, posits Lindsey of the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute. Although Lindsey (Dead Hand: The Uncertain Struggle for Global Capitalism) acknowledges that millions of Americans live below the poverty line, he argues that mass prosperity changed the equation in many areas, including gender relations, race relations, labor-management relations, parent-child dynamics and organized religion. The result was the rise of a politically liberal counterculture, a politically conservative backlash, the labeling of blue states and red states, and a multitude of other political phenomenon. Although the book offers details about political campaigning, drug use, and the rise of rock and roll music among other events that made headlines from the 1950s into the 21st century, the details often overwhelm Lindsey's hypothesis. Ultimately, the book reads more like a college freshman survey course textbook than a compelling narrative. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Freed of the struggle to meet basic needs, Americans have been privileged to focus on their wants. With breathtaking analysis, Lindsey, vice president of research at the Cato Institute, offers a dizzying look back over American economics, politics, and culture to examine the complexities of abundance. Improvements to everyday life, from electricity to clothing, have led to preoccupations with self-realization, equal rights, and relentless struggles between the political Left and Right. Drawing on observations from Karl Marx, Abraham Maslow, and Herbert Marcuse, among others, Lindsey traces the transformation of American culture as prosperity has shaken tried-and-true social conventions and the organizing principles that centered on the allocation of scarce resources. Prosperity has brought with it a sense that anything is possible. Lindsey pinpoints the current tensions between the political Left and Right to a 1967 San Francisco love-in and the opening of Oral Roberts University, both "eruptions of millenarian enthusiasm." Despite the tumult, Lindsey sees common ground as more Americans adopt a libertarian view, affirming core values while making allowances for different lifestyles. Readers from a broad spectrum of beliefs will appreciate the breadth and ardor of Lindsey's analysis, if not his conclusions. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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An short adaptation of the book is available online at [...] , it offers a decent taste of the book as a whole.
According to Lindsey, the mass affluence that ushered in after World War II lifted us out of "the realm of necessity" and into "the realm of freedom." For the first time in human history the vast majority no longer struggled to obtain the basic necessities of life. Many would debate this point, but statistically one could prove that even the poor were better off than in previous time or place.
Leaving the age of scarcity and entering the age of abundance, Americans were suddenly faced proliferation of choices, arguably turning them into a different kind of people. Not only did this unleash a quest for material wealth, but also a desire for political and cultural change. The age of abundance produced two antithetical social movements that upended the peaceful harmony of the 1950s. For the left of the 1960s and 70s, mass affluence created new possibilities for personal growth and greater tolerance and opportunity for women and minorities. The left, however, was dismissive of business culture and traditional family values, and failed to see how they were in fact responsible for the prosperity that they were enjoying. On the other side was the evangelical Christian right who was more protective of capitalism and tradition, but who were very intolerant of the newfound freedoms and lifestyles that were being explored.
During the 1980s and 90s, the cultural wars between these two camps raged, especially on election years. The blue-staters calling for greater political freedoms and the red-staters holding the fort on traditonal family values. Lindsey argues that these two camps are of late coming around to seeing the merits of the other's point of view. He writes that "today's typical red-state conservative is considerably bluer on race relations, the role of women, and sexual morality than his predecessor of a generation ago." And likewise, "the typical blue-state liberal is considerably redder than his predecessor when it comes to the importance of markets to economic growth, the virtues of the two-parent family and the morality of American geopolitical power." According to Lindsey, we are now living in a period of "libertarian synthesis."
This book could be called a feel-good libertarian parable. It praises the wisdom of the broad middle-class that not only reveres tradition but also tolerates greater freedoms than previous generations. The majority now feels comfortable with libertarianism. During election years hot-button issues are still ignited and battlelines are still drawn, but this has more to do with the media and electioneering than the real viewpoints of the majority. The reality is more complex and less divisive than the media would have us believe. We now have social peace because there is a greater tolerance for alternative views and lifestyles.