Drift and Mastery: An Attempt to Diagnose the Current Unrest

M. Kennerley
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M. Kennerley
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Published on
Dec 31, 1914
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Pages
334
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English
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In an era disgusted with politicians and the various instruments of "direct democracy," Walter Lippmann's The Phantom Public remains as relevant as ever. It reveals Lippmann at a time when he was most critical of the ills of American democracy. Antipopulist in sentiment, this volume defends elitism as a serious and distinctive intellectual option, one with considerable precursors in the American past. Lippmann's demythologized view of the American system of government resonates today. The Phantom Public discusses the "disenchanted man" who has become disillusioned not only with democracy, but also with reform. According to Lippmann, the average voter is incapable of governance; what is called the public is merely a "phantom." In terms of policy-making, the distinction should not be experts versus amateurs, but insiders versus outsiders. Lippmann challenges the core assumption of Progressive politics as well as any theory that pretends to leave political decision making in the hands of the people as a whole. In his biography Walter Lippmann and the American Century, Ronald Steel praised The Phantom Public as "one of Lippmann's most powerfully argued and revealing books. In it he came fully to terms with the inadequacy of traditional democratic theory." This volume is part of a continuing series on the major works of Walter Lippmann. As more and more Americans are inclined to become apathetic to the political system, this classic will be essential reading for students, teachers, and researchers of political science and history.
"The manner of presentation is so objective and projective that one finishes the book almost without realizing that it is perhaps the most effective indictment of democracy … ever penned."—John Dewey, The New Republic
Controversial and compelling, this 1922 work by a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner remains ever vital. Walter Lippmann is ranked among the most influential public figures of his era, and his reputation endures as one of history's greatest journalists. In Public Opinion, Lippmann examines democratic theory, citizenship in a democratic society, and the role of the media in forming public perceptions, expectations, and actions.
"Where mass opinion dominates the government," the author observes, "there is a morbid derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern. This breakdown in the constitutional order is the cause of the precipitate and catastrophic decline of Western society," he warned, adding, "It may, if it cannot be arrested and reversed, bring about the fall of the West."
Public Opinion explores censorship and privacy, stereotypes, leadership, and the image of democracy. In doing so, it changed the nature of political science as a scholarly discipline, helped launch the profession of public relations, and introduced concepts that continue to play an important role in current political theory. It remains essential reading for students and others with an interest in politics, journalism, and history.
Today it is assumed that we understand contemporary nationalism and nation-building. Researchers rarely consider the very different traditions from which such state-building emerged. Instead, there is almost too much discussion of the "global village," with its supposed uniformity and inevitable trajectories. We need to view modernity as something other than a single condition with a preordained future. New visions of a modern civilization are emerging throughout the world, calliing for a far-reaching appraisal of the older visions of modernization.

Following Eisenstadt's and Schluchter's introduction, Bjorn Wittrock explores the varieties and transitions of early modern societies, noting that only by looking at societies' collective identities and their modes of mediating in the public sphere can the distinguishing factors between modernity be appreciated. Sheldon Pollock discusses the use of vernacular language in India through its literary culture and polity, 1000-1500. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, sums up major developments in the recent historiography of South Asia from 1400 to 1750. David L. Howell focuses on the boundaries of the early modern Japanese state, including its political boundaries and the boundaries of collective identity and social status. Mary Elizabeth Berry examines public life in authoritarian Japan. Frederic Wakeman, Jr. probes the boundaries of the political game and how they were affected by the increased political centralization that developed after the disorder of the Ming-Qing transition during the seventeenth century. Alexander Woodside discusses territorial order and collective-identity tensions in Confucian Asia. Bernhard Giesen argues that the French Enlightenment can be described as an extension of absolutist court culture. Finally essay, Victor Perez-Diaz examines the state and public sphere in Spain during the Ancient Regime contrasting two ideal types of states--a "nomocratic" model and a "teleocratic" model.

This volume addresses cultural and political practices not only from outside the European and American spheres but also over long periods of time in which the internal dynamics of other civilizations become visible. Its broad-ranging use of empirical materials enables us to think comparatively and historically about the ways in which different modernities took shape.

"The manner of presentation is so objective and projective that one finishes the book almost without realizing that it is perhaps the most effective indictment of democracy … ever penned."—John Dewey, The New Republic
Controversial and compelling, this 1922 work by a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner remains ever vital. Walter Lippmann is ranked among the most influential public figures of his era, and his reputation endures as one of history's greatest journalists. In Public Opinion, Lippmann examines democratic theory, citizenship in a democratic society, and the role of the media in forming public perceptions, expectations, and actions.
"Where mass opinion dominates the government," the author observes, "there is a morbid derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern. This breakdown in the constitutional order is the cause of the precipitate and catastrophic decline of Western society," he warned, adding, "It may, if it cannot be arrested and reversed, bring about the fall of the West."
Public Opinion explores censorship and privacy, stereotypes, leadership, and the image of democracy. In doing so, it changed the nature of political science as a scholarly discipline, helped launch the profession of public relations, and introduced concepts that continue to play an important role in current political theory. It remains essential reading for students and others with an interest in politics, journalism, and history.
American Inquisitors is one of the small gems among Walter Lippmann's larger books. Written in response to the trials of John Scopes and William McAndrew in 1925 and 1927, this volume contains a succinct analysis of a basic problem of democracy: the conflict between intellectual freedom and majority rule. In both cases, the state, acting in the name of popular sovereignty, sought to suppress teaching that was contrary to the tenets of religious fundamentalism and patriotic tradition. In distilling the arguments surrounding both trials, Lippmann sounds a warning against the tyranny of the majority and challenges people to rethink their theories of liberty and democracy.American Inquisitors consists of five related dialogues, each exploring a different dilemma at the heart of democratic political theory. The first two establish the principles of majority rule and freedom of the mind in the persons of William Jennings Bryan and Thomas Jefferson, with Socrates urging a reexamination of all principles..These dialogues debate the will and the rational capacity of the people to rule and demonstrate the relative nature of freedom in democratic society.The third and fourth dialogues set a fundamentalist against a modernist and an Americanist against a scholar. Lippmann resists easy stereotyping and puts challenging insights and plausible arguments into the mouths of all the parties. These dialogues ask whether commitment to community comes before intellectual inquiry, 'or whether the search for truth precedes identity. The final dialogue, between Socrates and a conscientious teacher, attempts to define the mission of teaching and determine when and how to face the consequences of truth. Lippmann concludes that the program of liberty is to deprive the sovereign of absolute and arbitrary rule. Taken as a whole, the dialogues constitute an essential consistency within Lippmann's political thought, and delineate a recurring problem hi American politcal culture. American Inquisit
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