Discontents: Postmodern and Postcommunist / Edition 1

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Overview

What ails people at the present time in Western and especially American society is an inexhaustible subject. Discussion of these discontents in the United States in the last decade of the twentieth century leads to an obvious question: How much and what kind of discontents are possible in a society that has experienced over a decade of economic growth, close to full employment, hardly any inflation, falling crime rates, declining teenage pregnancies, and other good things? Is there anything to worry about in a country that has become the undisputed superpower of the world and no longer faces another hostile superpower such as the Soviet Union used to be? Paul Hollander wrestles with these and other questions in seeking to understand conditions and developments within American culture and society in the context of their relationship to political systems, movements and ideas critical of the United States and Western values. Hollander examines disparate phenomena, such as the O.J. Simpson case, the banning of West Side Story in Amherst, Massachusetts, the popularity and exposé of Rigoberta Menchu, and the appeal of sports utility vehicles, which shed light on the major themes of the volume. Topics include conflicts among American intellectuals (including disputes over the Kosovo intervention), the impact of postmodernism on higher education, the persisting appeal of victimhood in American society, the flaws of American sociology, academic specialists' failure to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the new anti-Americanism in postcommunist societies. Among topics of historical interest are a survey of Western judgments and misjudgments of the communist systems; examination of the relative neglect of political violence in communist states, and analysis of officially enforced, secular-religious cult of communist rulers. Many of these writings are linked to the author's longstanding interest in why people accept or reject particular political systems and in the contradictory human needs and desires which condition and limit the pursuit of social and political ends. Sociologists, political scientists, and the general reader will find this book of great interest.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765800909
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/21/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 430
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Hollander is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and center associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. His books include Political Pilgrims, The Many Faces of Socialism, and Soviet and American Society: A Comparison.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii
Introduction ix
Part 1 American Society and the Discontents of Postmodernity
1. Godfather II: The New American Tragedy 3
2. American Sociology and the Collapse of Communism 9
3. "Imagined Tyranny"? Political Correctness Reconsidered 23
4. The Attack on Science and Reason 49
5. Good Intentions and Unintended Consequences: A Critique of "Affirmative Action" 57
6. Reassessing the Adversary Culture 75
7. The Durable Significance of the Political Pilgrimages 91
8. Nonconformist Intellectuals Today 113
9. The Pursuit of Identity, Community and Social Justice: The Cult of Victimhood Revisited 131
10. Saving Sociology? 145
11. Marxism and Western Intellectuals in the Postcommunist Era 167
12. Intellectuals and the War in Kosovo 181
13. Acknowledgements: Appearance and Reality in a Ritual of Academic Life 195
Part 2 Soviet Communism: Its Fall and Aftermath
14. The Mystery of the Transformation of Communist Systems 215
15. Why Communism Collapsed in Eastern Europe 235
16. Moral Responses to the Great Mass Murders of Our Century 251
17. Digesting the Collapse of Communism: Responses of Western Intellectuals 271
18. Revisiting the "The Banality of Evil": Political Violence in Communist Systems 285
19. Growing Up in Communist Hungary 299
20. Thoughts on Travel in Russia 313
21. Western Views on Communism: Judgments and Misjudgments 329
22. Westernization and Anti-Americanism in Post-Communist Societies 361
23. The Cult of Personality in Communist States 377
24. The Crimes of Communism 391
25. Andre Gide and the Soviet Union: Infatuation and Disaffection 401
Name Index 419
Subject Index 427
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