Beatty portrays the contemporary American socio-political and socio-economic landscapes with more originality than I did in my recent post "Absolutely Relative,", though he, too, turns to Alexis de Tocqueville for then-and-now perspective. de Tocqueville offers readers a wealth of valuable material, but I hadn't before read anything as prescient as the below.
"Ideology - everything will work out for the best in the long run - sustains inevitability. But mass trances cannot be counted on to hold. The spell of inevitability has been broken before."Only a devoted scholar of history and culture could have so accurately predicted our current American condition...over 160 years ago! de Tocqueville's observations stand as a challenge to those bottom-line thinkers that deny the vitality of the humanities or the importance of a grounding in history. A world of specialists is a world of "post-political strangers."
"Should Americans lose their capacity for self interest, Tocqueville feared, American individualism would produce a society of post-political strangers who stay 'enclosed in their own hearts,' beyond collective anger, and laiable to pacification by the 'immense tutelary power' of a soft despotism."