Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Announcement

I am pleased to announce a recent book by a fellow Tocquevillean and translator, Alan Kahan. Here is a description: "For the past 150 years, Western intellectuals have trumpeted contempt for capitalism and capitalists. They have written novels, plays, and manifestos to demonstrate the evils of the economic system in which they live. Dislike and contempt for the bourgeoisie, the middle classes, industry, and commerce have been a prominent trait of leading Western writers and artists. "Mind vs. Money" is an analytical history of how and why so many intellectuals have opposed capitalism. It is also an argument for how this opposition can be tempered. Historically, intellectuals have expressed their rejection of capitalism through many different movements, including nationalism, anti-Semitism, socialism, fascism, communism, and the 1960s counterculture. Hostility to capitalism takes new forms today. The anti-globalization, Green, communitarian, and New Age movements are all examples. Intellectuals give such movements the legitimacy and leadership they would otherwise lack. What unites radical intellectuals of the nineteenth century, communists and fascists of the twentieth, and anti-globalization protestors of the twenty-first, along with many other intellectuals not associated with these movements, is their rejection of capitalism. Kahan argues that intellectuals are a permanently alienated elite in capitalist societies. In myriad forms, and on many fronts, the battle between Mind and Money continues today. Anti-Americanism is one of them. Americans like to see their country as a beacon of freedom and prosperity. But in the eyes of many European and American intellectuals, when America is identified with capitalism, it is transformed from moral beacon into the 'Great Satan'. This is just one of the issues "Mind vs. Money" explores. The conflict between Mind and Money is the great, unresolved conflict of modern society. To end it, we must first understand it."

4 comments:

philosoraptor said...

This looks really interesting. Have you actually read/skimmed the book? I'm wondering whether it's suitable for 1st- and 2nd-year undergraduate students.

Anonymous said...

sounds interesting.
though note that there are many anti-capitalists who are not alienated from society. Indeed, those who are in academia and inclined towards ethereal pursuits - even those in government (fonctionnaires) are elites, too.



CP

Anonymous said...

Haven't we seen this tired old argument before? Criticizing capitalism is illegitimate because you are a _____ (fill in: communist, fascist, nationalist, anti-semite, Anti-American, Green, etc. ) This is analysis by ad hominem (guilt by association). In short, there are no legitimate criticisms of the way capitalism works and all critics are ideological malcontents. Glad we got that settled.

This kind of history should have died with the Cold War.

Unknown said...

No, I haven't read or seen the book, but I did see Alan in Paris and have read his previous work.