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The Cynical Society

The Culture of Politics and the Politics of Culture in American Life

The Cynical Society is a study of the political despair and abdication of (individual) responsibility Goldfarb calls cynicism—a central but unexamined aspect of contemporary American political and social life. Goldfarb reveals with vivid strokes how cynicism undermines our capacity to think about society’s strengths and weaknesses. Drawing on thinkers from Alexis de Tocqueville to Allan Bloom and on such recent works as Beloved, Bonfire of the Vanities, and Mississippi Burning, The Cynical Society celebrates cultural pluralism’s role in democracy.

Table of Contents

1. Cynicism and the American Way of Politics
2. Cynicism as a Cultural Form
3. Mass Society as the Underside of Democracy
4. Democracy in America
5. The Decline and Fall of American Culture?
6. Ideology and the American Left: The Pursuit of Obscurity
7. Ideology on the American Right—A Clear and Present Danger
8. The Crisis in Education
9. The New Treason of the Intellectuals: A Critique of Ideological Critique
10. Cynicism and the American Dilemma
11. Cynicism, Fundamentalism, and the Prospects for Democratic Culture

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