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Twilight of Authority 0th Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0865972124
ISBN-10: 0865972125
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"We had thought, or our forefathers had, that modern liberal democracy would be spared the kind of erosion and decay that both Plato and Aristotle declared endemic in all forms of state. Now we are not so sure." So wrote Robert Nisbet in the first edition of Twilight of Authority, published by Oxford University Press in 1975. "The centralization, and, increasingly, individualization of power is matched in the social and cultural spheres by a combined hedonism and egalitarianism, each in its own way a reflection of the destructive impact of power on the hierarchy that is native of the social bond, " he writes.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865972125
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865972124
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,218,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Robert Nisbet was without a doubt one of the most creative and original thinkers in recent memory. His expertise was in sociology, but his works concerned history, politics and, more broadly, what might be called the history of ideas.

In 1975 - at the end of the Watergate Era - Nisbet came out with the TWILIGHT OF AUTHORITY, a work which contained for the most part material published in journals from 1969-1974. These were crucial times in American history, and Nisbet's perspective is invaluable.
As Nisbet indicates, modern society is marked by the expansion of the state and the decline in intermediary institutions. As government gets bigger, it becomes more corrupt. Lies became a way of life. Contrary to some conservatives, Nisbet didn't see Watergate is a minor scandal blown out of proportion by the leftist media. More than anything it showed how corrupt and venial government had become. It's now often forgotten how Americans were shocked at the vulgar language on the Nixon tapes. Of course, as Nisbet says, Kennedy and Johnson paved the way for Nixon. As government gets bigger, intermediate institutions get less powerful and lose influence over people's lives.
As usual, Nisbet is illuminating on any topic with which he deals. For example: the self-destruction of the Roman Catholic Church at Vatican II, the relationship between war and democracy, the decline in influence of the university, the takeover of science by the state, and even popular culture.
This edition contains an excellent introduction by Prof. R. Perrin. Unfortunately, it doesn't contain an index.
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This is written from the perspective of Watergate, and the author makes strong points about the danger of the royal Presidency, and also, something that struck me was he said our checks and balances don't really work. He credits the janitor more than anyone for uncovering Watergate, and Congress drug its feet to investigate afterward.
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