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Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents Hardcover – June 15, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian C. Anderson is the editor of City Journal, the cultural and political quarterly published by the Manhattan Institute, where he writes extensively on social and political trends. Aside from his articles in City Journal, his work has appeared in First Things, the Public Interest, Wilson Quarterly, the New York Post, and the Washington Times. Along with South Park Conservatives, Anderson is the author of Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (June 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859248
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
One central insight of this book is the notion that Mankind cannot create a perfect political order for itself- and that efforts to bring about a Utopian order for Mankind have been and will always be- disastrous. Pointing to the secular Utopias that failed in this century and took over one- hundred million lives, the champion of democratic capitalism Anderson refuses to gloat. The victory of democratic capitalism and the increasing effort of Mankind to move in the direction of the relatively successful American model have not brought paradise either.
Anderson relying on the analysis of the French Historian Francois Furet points to two flaws in free- market societies. The first is that preaching an equality of opportunity they lead to unrealistic egalitarian expectations. Secondly , the societies suffer from moral uncertainties. Their giving so much weight to individual judgment and decision mean that they bear within them a tendency to moral anarchy. And it is possible to argue that many of the social ills which have come to plague America in the last half- century especially have come out of an excessive retreat of public communal ethic before individual wish and whim.
Anderson in his defense of democratic capitalism urges a modification towards greater balance between communal obligation and individual judgment.
He provides readings of key thinkers such as the radical egalitarian John Rawls, Bernard de Jouvenal.
His work is in the tradition of the sensible defenders of liberty and democracy perhaps most notably Isaiah Berlin.
An instructive , timely and important work.
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Format: Hardcover
Anderson's fast-paced book is a perfect guide to some of the big questions of our time: Is globalization good or bad? How does the American model of democratic capitalism compare with Europe's social democracies? Why do so many intellectuals despise the free society? Anderson's central argument--to adapt Churchill, democratic capitalism is the worst form of society except for all the others that have been tried--is reasonable and elegantly expressed.
Required reading for anyone interested in politics...five stars!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a good read primarily because it takes the reader through important subjects related to modern democracy, and presents a number of interesting philosophers. But the bad news is that it doesn't meet the implied aim of giving a clear picture of how persons can do anything to improve civil society. And this is particularly true of people who aren't philosophers with extreme positions. The reader who searches for a balanced examination of the problems that come from a democratic society is rewarded with frustration.

The book opens with a statement of two primary weaknesses of liberal democracy, namely that it overdoes equality, and tends to produce a lack of moral direction. These are important areas to explore. But the way of doing so raises skepticism. In Chapter 2, Anderson presents an analysis of "Empire", by Hardt and Negri. He characterizes the book as being the absolutely the worst drivel imaginable, and ties it to the liberal press, citing the New York Times (p 24). Interestingly, I found "Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents" and was prompted to buy it by a rather favorable editor's comment in the Times Book Review. But in any event, accepting the author's characterizations, what is the purpose of his setting up Empire as representing total trash, so as to then knock it down? How does this contribute to the American citizen who wants to understand how we are or aren't dealing with moral issues in our law and politics? Chapter 6, with a discussion of the writings of John Rawls, seems similarly to have the purpose of setting up a bogey man so as to be able to knock him down. There is no case made that a significant number of Americans, of the left, center or otherwise, follow his teachings or, indeed, even know anything about him.
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Format: Hardcover
All I could think of while reading these essays was how much Mr. Anderson reminded me of Roger Kimball--my favorite conservative writer and thinker. Anderson's South Park Republicans was an excellent book, but this one is even better. It's a serious examination of cultural trends along with the malignant beliefs of our anti-capitalist, and yes anti-democratic, intellectuals. I read a review of it in National Review which made me wary, so the book itself was a pleasant surprise. It made it sound like it was an obscure philosophical work. On the contrary, however, this short collection of essays is full of vigor and specificity.

Democratic Capitalism addresses both the pathologies of the political left along with the idiosyncrasies of a gaggle of talking heads. The dissection of Hardt and Negri's Empire was a joy to digest, and far preferable to actually having to read it. I also found his examination of Jean-Paul Sarte enlightening. The man was a monster...yet so much less. When I was in college debate, the name John Rawls was on everyone's lips; although, his was a slippery and allusive form of justice; one which made no room for his ideological opponents. Mr. Anderson illuminates the non-democratic tendencies of Rawls along with those of many other figures. The essay on the rise of judicial activism was pretty horrifying but went a long way in explaining the culture in which we now find ourselves. What hope is there for conservatives given the recent victories of emotion over reason and of political correctness over freedom in our daily life? The future appears rather dim but we should be cheered by our foes rampant insecurity. This suggests that our side, just by the nature of its continued existence, may be more powerful than we suspect.
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