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The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy

by Russell Jacoby

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We are facing the end of politics altogether, Russell Jacoby argues in The End of Utopia. Political contestation is premised on people's capacity for offering competing visions of the future, but in a world that has run out of political ideas and no longer harbors any utopian visions, real political opposition is no longer possible. In particular, Jacoby traces the demise of liberal and leftist politics. Leftist intellectuals and critics no longer envision a different society, only a modified one. The left once dismissed the market as exploitative, but now honors it as rational and humane. The left used to disdain mass culture, but now celebrates it as rebellious. The left once rejected pluralism as superficial, but now resurrects pluralist ideas in the guise of multiculturalism.Ranging across a wide terrain of cultural and political phenomena--the end of the Cold War, the rise of multiculturalism, the acceptance of mass culture, the eclipse of independent intellectuals--Jacoby documents and laments a widespread retreat from the utopian spirit that has always been the engine for social and political change.… (more)

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We are facing the end of politics altogether, Russell Jacoby argues in The End of Utopia. Political contestation is premised on people's capacity for offering competing visions of the future, but in a world that has run out of political ideas and no longer harbors any utopian visions, real political opposition is no longer possible. In particular, Jacoby traces the demise of liberal and leftist politics. Leftist intellectuals and critics no longer envision a different society, only a modified one. The left once dismissed the market as exploitative, but now honors it as rational and humane. The left used to disdain mass culture, but now celebrates it as rebellious. The left once rejected pluralism as superficial, but now resurrects pluralist ideas in the guise of multiculturalism.Ranging across a wide terrain of cultural and political phenomena--the end of the Cold War, the rise of multiculturalism, the acceptance of mass culture, the eclipse of independent intellectuals--Jacoby documents and laments a widespread retreat from the utopian spirit that has always been the engine for social and political change.

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