The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-08-03
  • Publisher: Perseus Distribution Services

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One of the grimmer comedies of the twentieth century was the fate of miserable victims of communist regimes who climbed walls, swam rivers, dodged bullets and found other desperate ways to achieve liberty in the West. Simultaneously, intellectuals in the West sentimentally proclaimed that these very regimes were the wave of the future. A similar tragicomedy is being played out in our century: as the victims of despotism and backwardness from third world nations pour into Western states, the same ivory tower intellectuals explain that Western life is a nightmare of inequality and oppression. In The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life, Kenneth Minogue explores the intelligentsia's love affair with social perfection and reveals how that idealistic dream is destroying exactly what has made the inventive Western world irresistible to the peoples of foreign lands. The Servile Mind analyzes how Western morality has evolved into mere "politico-moral" posturing about admired ethical causes - from solving world poverty and creating peace to curing climate change. Today, merely making the correct noises and parading one's essential decency by having the correct opinions has became a substitute for individual moral actions. Instead, Minogue posits, we ask that our government carry the burden of solving our social and especially moral problems for us. The sad and frightening irony is that as we allow the state to determine our moral order and inner convictions, the more we need to be told how to behave and what to think.

Author Biography

Kenneth Minogue is Emeritus Professor of political science at the London School of Economics. He has written books on liberalism, nationalism, the idea of a university, the logic of ideology, and more recently, on democracy and the moral life. He has reviewed in many places, and has been a columnist for The Times, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and for other outlets. His most recent books have been Politics: A Very Short Introduction for the Oxford University Press, and an edited volume Essays in Conservative Realism. In 1986, he presented a six-part television series about libertarian economics called The New Enlightenment on Channel Four. It was repeated in 1988. He was Chairman of the Bruges Group 1991 – 1993, and is on the Board of the think tank Civitas. He was born in New Zealand and educated in Australia.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Democratic Ambiguitiesp. 17
Democracy as a Process of Continuing Changep. 17
How to Analyze Democracyp. 21
Some Basic Conditions of Democracyp. 26
Illusion and Paradoxp. 32
Democracy as Process and Idealp. 37
Democracy as Collective Social Salvationp. 43
The Project of Equalizing the Worldp. 51
Democracy Versus the Deference Worldp. 51
Forms of Instrumentalism in Democracyp. 59
Rights and the Sources of Democratic Legitimacyp. 66
Culture and the Democratic World: Women and Politicsp. 73
The Logic of Anti-Discriminationp. 78
Discrimination as a Categoryp. 79
Who Are the ôMinoritiesö?p. 84
The Vocabulary of Anti-Discriminationp. 90
Sentimentalism and Anti-Discriminationp. 95
The Positive Entailments of Anti-Discrimination Negationsp. 100
The Civilizational Significance of the Democratic Telosp. 104
Democratic Discontentsp. 108
The Moral Life and its Conditionsp. 119
Morals and Politicsp. 119
What is the Moral Life?p. 130
A Context of the Moral lifep. 146
A Structure of the Moral Lifep. 152
Individualism and the Modern Worldp. 158
Some Individualist Legendsp. 166
Elements of Individualismp. 172
Conflict Balance, and the Westp. 179
Servility and the Moral Lifep. 184
The Politico-Moral Worldp. 199
The Defects of Western Civilizationp. 199
The Politico-Moral World and its Ethical Claimsp. 209
The Emergence of the Politico-Moralp. 215
Aspect of the Politico-Moralp. 221
Fallacies of the ôSocialöp. 221
The Concept of ôRepresentativenessöp. 226
The Appeasement Tendencyp. 231
The Stick and Carrot Problemp. 234
From Desire to Impulsep. 240
The Politico-Moral Image of a Modern Societyp. 248
Is There a Theology of the Politico-Moral?p. 262
Ambivalence and Western Civilizationp. 271
Mapping Politicsp. 271
On Perfectionisms and Systematicp. 277
Piecemeal Perfectionismp. 280
Overthrowing Anciens Régimesp. 282
Ignorance, Poverty, and Warp. 287
Oppressions and Liberationsp. 291
The Politico Moral Form of Associationp. 298
Culture Versus Ideals of Transformationp. 307
Perfection and the Ambivalence Worldp. 317
What Kind of Thing is the Politico-Moral?p. 325
The Moral Life as the Pursuit of Idealsp. 328
Endnotesp. 347
Indexp. 351
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