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With engaging wit and subtle irony, Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures, thinkers, and polemicists have been arguing against progressive agendas and reforms for the past two hundred years.
Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to democratization and the drive toward universal suffrage in the nineteenth century, and to the welfare state in our own century. In each case he identifies three principal arguments invariably used: (1) the perversity thesis, whereby any action to improve some feature of the political, social, or economic order is alleged to result in the exact opposite of what was intended; (2) the futility thesis, which predicts that attempts at social transformation will produce no effects whatever--will simply be incapable of making a dent in the status quo; (3) the jeopardy thesis, holding that the cost of the proposed reform is unacceptable because it will endanger previous hard-won accomplishments. He illustrates these propositions by citing writers across the centuries from Alexis de Tocqueville to George Stigler, Herbert Spencer to Jay Forrester, Edmund Burke to Charles Murray. Finally, in a lightning turnabout, he shows that progressives are frequently apt to employ closely related rhetorical postures, which are as biased as their reactionary counterparts. For those who aspire to the genuine dialogue that characterizes a truly democratic society, Hirschman points out that both types of rhetoric function, in effect, as contraptions designed to make debate impossible. In the process, his book makes an original contribution to democratic thought. The Rhetoric of Reaction is a delightful handbook for all discussions of public affairs, the welfare state, and the history of social, economic, and political thought, whether conducted by ordinary citizens or academics.
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Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to democratization and the drive toward universal suffrage in the nineteenth century, and to the welfare state in our own century.About the Author:
Albert O. Hirschman is Professor of Social Science, Emeritus, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, following a career of prestigious appointments, honors, and awards. Perhaps the most widely known and admired of his many books are Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (Harvard) and The Passions and the Interests (Princeton).
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Book Description Belknap Press 1991-03-06, 1991. Hardcover. Condition: Good. Books is in good condition. Some moderate creases and wear. This item may not come with CDs or additional parts and might be an ex-library copy. Seller Inventory # DS-0674768671-3
Book Description Harvard University Press. Hardcover. Condition: Fair. A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. Pages can include considerable notes-in pen or highlighter-but the notes cannot obscure the text. An ex-library book and may have standard library stamps and/or stickers. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. Seller Inventory # G0674768671I5N10
Book Description Belknap Press, 1991. Condition: UsedAcceptable. book. Seller Inventory # M0674768671_4
Book Description Belknap Press, 1991. Hardcover. Condition: Good. 1st US - 1st Printing. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library. Shipping & Handling by region. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0674768671
Book Description Belknap Press, 1991. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Great condition with minimal wear, aging, or shelf wear. Seller Inventory # P020674768671