The Age of Abundance: How Prosperity Transformed America's Politics and Culture by Brink Lindsey
Collins Business | Pages: 400 | Date: 2008-08-01 | ISBN: 0060747676 | PDF | 1,18MB
Until the 1950s, the struggle to feed, clothe, and employ the nation drove most of American political life. From slavery to the New Deal, political parties organized around economic interests and engaged in fervent debate over the best allocation of agonizingly scarce resources. But with the explosion of the nation's economy in the years after World War II, a new set of needs began to emerge—a search for meaning and self-expression on one side, and a quest for stability and a return to traditional values on the other.In The Age of Abundance, Brink Lindsey offers a bold reinterpretation of the latter half of the twentieth century. In this sweeping history of postwar America, the tumult of racial and gender politics, the rise of the counterculture, and the conservative revolution of the 1980s and 1990s are portrayed in an entirely new light. Readers will learn how and why the contemporary ideologies of left and right emerged in response to the novel challenges of mass prosperity.
The political ideas that created the culture wars, however, have now grown obsolete. As the Washington Post aptly summarized Lindsey's take on the contradictions of American politics, "Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s while Democrats want to work there." Struggling to replace today's stale conflicts is a new consensus that mixes the social freedom of the left with the economic freedom of the right into a potentially powerful ethos of libertarianism. The Age of Abundance reveals the secret formula of this remarkable alchemy. The book is a breathtaking reevaluation of our recent past—and will change the way we think about the future.
Summary: A truly new idea....
For someone who closely follows news and politics, reading this book was a refreshing experience. Its central premise is a truly unique idea, in a field filled with redundant writing.
Lindsey's main insight is that both the evangelical revival and the countercultural left arose in response to America's unprecedented prosperity after World War II. Through his libertarian worldview, Lindsey is able to expose the contradictions within each of these movements. The Christian right defends capitalist principles of hard work, delayed gratifcation, and planning for the future -- but condemns the personal freedoms, choices, and lifestyles that are made possible by the new prosperity. In contrast, the countercultural left embraces a more culturally permissive society that emphasizes self-realization -- but condemns the market institutions that create the prosperity that makes this self-realization possible.
Ultimately, Lindsey argues that we must follow a new course that captures the benefits of both the Christian right and the "Aquarian" left. We should firmly embrace capitalism and market institutions, which have produced astonishing growth and prosperity over the last century. But we should also embrace the fruits of this prosperity -- with more time and money than ever before, Americans should be free to choose the lifestyles, religions, products, and experiences that make them happiest. This book argues that we are moving towards a libertarian consensus in the United States that will capture the best of both worlds. This is a highly cogent and persuasive work of history and political science, and I strongly recommend reading it.
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