Monday, August 3, 2009

partial book review/ mainly quotes: The Paranoid Style in American Politics

I am reading this book by Richard Hofstadter, its a collection of essays on the paranoid style in (mainly conservative) American politics, written between 1954 and 1964.

It's pretty crazy, because while he is mainly talking about McCarthyites, Senator Robert Taft and the campaign of Barry Goldwater, it reads as though he could have been writing about Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

he writes, "what is at stake (to the paranoid right) is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, the quality needed is not a willingness to compromise, but the will to fight things out to a finish. Nothing but complete victory will do. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated...This demand for unqualified victories leads to the formulation of hopelessly demanding and unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoids frustration"

(This sounds like an excellent description of the war on terror, it was written about the search for domestic communists in the early 1960's).

and this sounds like Glenn Beck, "We are all sufferres from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, sin ce he is afflicted not only be the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well" (40).

I like this one too, written about the fall of China to Mao, "the paranoid sees his own country as bein so weak that it is constantly about to fall civtim to subversion; and yet he feels that it is so all-poerful that any failiure it may epeience in getting its way in the world...cannot possibly be due to its limitations but must be attributed to its being betrayed" (46).

There is lots more like this.

It's awesome

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