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In this trenchant challenge to social engineering, Paul Gottfried analyzes a patricide: the slaying of nineteenth-century liberalism by the managerial state. Many people, of course, realize that liberalism no longer connotes distributed powers and bourgeois moral standards, the need to protect civil society from an encroaching state, or the virtues of vigorous self-governm In this trenchant challenge to social engineering, Paul Gottfried analyzes a patricide: the slaying of nineteenth-century liberalism by the managerial state. Many people, of course, realize that liberalism no longer connotes distributed powers and bourgeois moral standards, the need to protect civil society from an encroaching state, or the virtues of vigorous self-government. Many also know that today's "liberals" have far different goals from those of their predecessors, aiming as they do largely to combat prejudice, to provide social services and welfare benefits, and to defend expressive and "lifestyle" freedoms. Paul Gottfried does more than analyze these historical facts, however. He builds on them to show why it matters that the managerial state has replaced traditional liberalism: the new regimes of social engineers, he maintains, are elitists, and their rule is consensual only in the sense that it is unopposed by any widespread organized opposition. Throughout the western world, increasingly uprooted populations unthinkingly accept centralized controls in exchange for a variety of entitlements. In their frightening passivity, Gottfried locates the quandary for traditionalist and populist adversaries of the welfare state. How can opponents of administrative elites show the public that those who provide, however ineptly, for their material needs are the enemies of democratic self-rule and of independent decision making in family life? If we do not wake up, Gottfried warns, the political debate may soon be over, despite sporadic and ideologically confused populist rumblings in both Europe and the United States.


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In this trenchant challenge to social engineering, Paul Gottfried analyzes a patricide: the slaying of nineteenth-century liberalism by the managerial state. Many people, of course, realize that liberalism no longer connotes distributed powers and bourgeois moral standards, the need to protect civil society from an encroaching state, or the virtues of vigorous self-governm In this trenchant challenge to social engineering, Paul Gottfried analyzes a patricide: the slaying of nineteenth-century liberalism by the managerial state. Many people, of course, realize that liberalism no longer connotes distributed powers and bourgeois moral standards, the need to protect civil society from an encroaching state, or the virtues of vigorous self-government. Many also know that today's "liberals" have far different goals from those of their predecessors, aiming as they do largely to combat prejudice, to provide social services and welfare benefits, and to defend expressive and "lifestyle" freedoms. Paul Gottfried does more than analyze these historical facts, however. He builds on them to show why it matters that the managerial state has replaced traditional liberalism: the new regimes of social engineers, he maintains, are elitists, and their rule is consensual only in the sense that it is unopposed by any widespread organized opposition. Throughout the western world, increasingly uprooted populations unthinkingly accept centralized controls in exchange for a variety of entitlements. In their frightening passivity, Gottfried locates the quandary for traditionalist and populist adversaries of the welfare state. How can opponents of administrative elites show the public that those who provide, however ineptly, for their material needs are the enemies of democratic self-rule and of independent decision making in family life? If we do not wake up, Gottfried warns, the political debate may soon be over, despite sporadic and ideologically confused populist rumblings in both Europe and the United States.

30 review for After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marcás

    Paul Gottfried's book is deeply unsettling and provides a wake-up call to Christians, who must resist the ever increasing social engineering, mind control and behaviour modification of nation states, multinational bodies; their royal secular priesthoods and mass of political pawns. Similar to Christopher Lasch's attack on 'progress', and a fine addendum to that tome; Gottfried describes the continuities and discontinuities of liberalism, pluralism, multiculturalism, etc. Particularly in North Am Paul Gottfried's book is deeply unsettling and provides a wake-up call to Christians, who must resist the ever increasing social engineering, mind control and behaviour modification of nation states, multinational bodies; their royal secular priesthoods and mass of political pawns. Similar to Christopher Lasch's attack on 'progress', and a fine addendum to that tome; Gottfried describes the continuities and discontinuities of liberalism, pluralism, multiculturalism, etc. Particularly in North America and Western Europe. Paul helps us by highlighting the nefarious forces behind and rotten fruits resulting from what Jacques Ellul called 'world opinion' and it's enforcement. This is an arbitrary new faith which chooses preferred narratives of oppressors and oppressed, flaming resentment and unburdened by forgiveness, mercy, a sense of history or personal responsibility; calls for 'revolutionary' action which can lead to nothing other than violence, continued contempt and tyranny- either soft or hard. This is an affront to The Gospel. We see this in the labelling of opposing persons to 'world opinion' as racist, sexist, homophobe, transphobe, etc, pathologising them in an heretical spin on ''He's the worst of sinners''. Now it is ''He is a xenophobe'', one of those aforementioned and/or some semblance thereof. And they have their own type and means of 'conversion' as well as a form of 'conversion therapy'. This becomes particularly worrisome when it is written into law, as is increasingly the case. Paul provides examples from different countries and highlights some of the awful effects. Unfortunately, this has only gotten worse since the publication of this book at the turn of the millenium. In After Liberalsim, we discover that this malignant neo-religion has it's roots in the ideological works of men involved in 'critical theory'. Most clearly in the myths of 'oppressor-oppressed', 'higher consciousness' and 'cultural hegemony' and the resulting reified notions of 'whiteness' and 'patriarchy', which flow from this tenuous ahistorical belief. This is a framing that loses its power over us when it's false gods are exposed, when it is seen for what it is, named and shamed. Then we must consciously and conscientously act against the new faith and it's works. It is important for Christians to know how and why Old Scratch is working so we don't fall into his trap. Many well-intentioned 'Christians' who accept the worldviews and methods described by Gottfried are sadly doing just that, falling into his trap. As Ivan Illich has it- ''The corruption of the best is the worst.'' While Dr Gottfried (intentionally) doesn't offer much of a prescription for the future, The Gospel, in it's balanced pentecostal fullness, does: Galatians 3:28- ''There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.''

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Chick

    This is Gottfried’s first in a series of books trying to explain the current state of western civilization and possible future conflicts and failures. It is a pretty devastating book that up ends notions of the current government as liberal or democratic. Instead, ours is pluralist managerial therapeutic system that ignores the will of the people to fulfill moral crusades, but in doing so creates its own problems. Indeed, while somewhat impressed by the early pluralists, Gottfrieds finds the new This is Gottfried’s first in a series of books trying to explain the current state of western civilization and possible future conflicts and failures. It is a pretty devastating book that up ends notions of the current government as liberal or democratic. Instead, ours is pluralist managerial therapeutic system that ignores the will of the people to fulfill moral crusades, but in doing so creates its own problems. Indeed, while somewhat impressed by the early pluralists, Gottfrieds finds the new ones to be a shell. Liberalism is simply a cover, and as events have shown, the elite have no loyalty to liberalism or democracy. Only by way of social programs is the order fine. Tellingly, Europe’s populist revolt (right and left) only gained strength once austerity was practiced after 2008. Chapter 4 is brilliant, a combination of clear and biting analysis mixed with tight prose, which is not always the case in his later books. Chapter 4 argues in part that current Leftist actions are driven by a fear Nazis, despite the fact that Americans crushed the Nazis and the party had no mass traction in America. In chasing imagined Nazis, the pluralists are depicted as over zealous, unwilling to consider contrary opinions, and worst of all cheerfully blind to what will be wrought by their policies. They are people making personal opinions masked as expertise. Their messianic proclivities are masked by appeal to science and decency as they define it. Of all the pluralists, Gottfried despises Theodore Adorno the most, finding him hypocritical, narrow-minded, and something of a toady. Much of what Gottfried’s general predictions on where conflicts would arise have been correct. That is because he has mostly mastered that rarest of talents, the ability to perceive what is actually happening instead of seeing what you want to see. Part of this is seeing the weaknesses of each side. Yet what of the predictions? In short, the acceleration of censorship, the impossibility of total censorship in a literate society, the misuse of fascism as a catch all boogeyman, the populist challenge to the intellectual order, the priority given to identity over openness of intellect, and most tellingly the failure of the populist challenge, but not precisely of the intellectual challenge,to the current order. It should be noted that the populism he saw getting the most traction in America was that which Donald Trump exercised, and this book was published in 2001. Since then, voices were drown out which remerged after 2008 in the wake of the financial crash and the openness of the Internet. This book, and everything by Gottfried, has one major weakness. He does not address capitalism save in the abstract, which shows conservatism’s continued weakness in understanding its implications. While I do think there is a pluralist managerial therapeutic system, I do not think it trumps capitalism and consumerism as the dominant forces in our age, and the two have an uneasy relationship. As I did in previous books, below are some choice quotations from what might be the shrewdest conservative thinker of our age. “In their hands multiculturalism has become an instrument of control, one designed to privilege their own concerns and to stigmatize those who think differently.” “In nontraditional societies without recognized moral authorities, intellectuals compete, according to Weber, to make their private value-preferences generally accepted. Such “assertions of a highest value [Ho¨chstwertsetzung]” become typical of a society which declares itself open to discussion but is searching at the same time for moral bearings.” “With due respect to its former practitioners now suffering second thoughts, all phases of pluralism reveal the same endencies, the ascendancy of the managerial state and its restructuring of social relations. Whether a humanistic conception or an arrogant court religion, pluralism has consistently justified a socially intrusive public administration. And by its own politicizing momentum, it has contributed to a postliberal democratic age, to which pluralists continue to attach misleading liberal labels.” “The sensitivity needed to practice “democracy” or to enter the political conversation continues to rise. Unlike his counterpart of 1960, today’s public personality must master gender-inclusive language, remain abreast of the changing designations for designated minorities, and say nothing to offend gays. The apparent reasons for these restraints are the growing compassion and openness being practiced by society. But the real reason may be widespread fear. People are afraid to engage in pathologically described dissent or to oppose the favored values of journalists and government administrators.” “And for those thereafter engaged in debates about liberal democracy, it became convenient to treat one’s opponents as prejudiced and sick. Political debate, as Lasch notes, would be limited to increasingly narrow parameters of dissent, and whoever crossed those lines would be singled out as enemies of democracy and bearers of social disease. Defenders of welfare state democracy, who, like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., saw themselves as upholding the “vital center,” would thus acquire a new arrow for their quiver. Being a pro-welfare-state liberal internationalist betokened not only virtue but also mental well-being.” “The argumentative ruses adopted to consolidate the political status quo go from forcing an argument to actual intimidation. They begin by appealing to unproved premises, which the reader is nudged into accepting, move on to therapeutic criteria for right reasoning, and finally, as seen in recent hate speech and anti-Holocaust revisionist laws, end by reverting to the argumentum baculinum, which may mean arresting those considered criminally insensitive. At stake here is not the idle pastime of scribes. It is an attempt undertaken by prominent intellectuals to elevate pluralism into behavioral coercion.” “What made such a plan seem workable was that for the early pluralists and their multicultural descendants society would have fewer and fewer traditional groups. The kind of pluralist society that Dewey and Kallen envisaged would go beyond rooted ethnic communities. It would become the evolving creation of “free” individual participants, setting goals under scientific direction and having their material interests monitored by a “conductor state.” The world as conceived by pluralists was there to be managed and to be made culturally safe for its framers: Eastern and Central European Jews fearful of traditional Gentile mores and the uprooted descendants of New England Calvinists looking for the New Jerusalem under scientific management.” And lastly, the biggest gut punch of them all… “The political class has forgotten that its subjects will serve it and its court religion to whatever extent it goes on feeding and protecting. As in Hobbes’s Leviathan, though subjects are materially driven and fear obsessed, their loyalty is not unconditional. It is only there when their needs are being met—or, more precisely, when people believe this is happening. Fearful subjects have given up liberty for security, but they may regret this choice if the sovereign loses their respect. This Hobbesian understanding of the nature and limits of authority goes back to the dawn of modern political thought, and it throws light on the populist insurgency that now confronts the managerial state.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dietrich

    In After Liberalism, (1999), Paul Gottfried argues that our "liberal democracy" is neither liberal nor democratic; the term is merely a label intended to provide legitimacy for an evolving American managerial state that seeks to expand its power at home and abroad. The managerial state is not liberal-since there is no inviolable space into which it will not intrude and meddle-and it is not democratic, unless you think being administered and socialized by a custodial class-a fact that does not ch In After Liberalism, (1999), Paul Gottfried argues that our "liberal democracy" is neither liberal nor democratic; the term is merely a label intended to provide legitimacy for an evolving American managerial state that seeks to expand its power at home and abroad. The managerial state is not liberal-since there is no inviolable space into which it will not intrude and meddle-and it is not democratic, unless you think being administered and socialized by a custodial class-a fact that does not change despite periodic elections that rotate parties in power-constitutes self governance. Gottfried stresses the managerial state is very powerful in no small measure because so much of the population is dependent upon it for the various services it provides. Interestingly, the managerial state uses the people’s material reliance upon it as leverage to advance various social/cultural goals that are often quite unpopular and controversial. Gottfried insists loudly that, contrary to the widespread notion of the state being a neutral broker, the managerial state definitely spearheads a self-serving, power-enhancing agenda of its own. And opponents of the managerial state and its “therapeutic” agenda-to be explained shortly-have very little power to oppose it. Gottfried contextualizes classical (i.e. genuine) liberalism as a ideology/outlook that flourished as part of the 19c bourgeois order, and argues that the turbulent 20th century rise of mass democracy led to the political and cultural displacement of that order. Politically, the emerging managerial welfare state sought to reestablish order in a new fashion, embracing the idea of economic planning, the redistribution of resources, the jettisoning in practice of Constitutional limitations viewed as archaic straitjackets, and the socialization of the populace. And its technocratic conception of politics hinted at possibilities of global application. Culturally, the world of mass production/consumption helped unmoor the populace from specific cultural traditions, and helped foster an ethic of self-actualization that bred contempt and hostility towards bourgeois norms and resentment against those who were better situated. These trends fed into the democratic valorization of leveling, which undermined bourgeois standards and helped the push to redistribute resources. Though there are still residues of classical liberalism, the 20th century political and cultural assault on the old liberal bourgeois order was highly successful. And the liberal democratic managerial regime continues to attack what remains of bourgeois civil society in its quest for social reconstruction. The social planners shrewdly appropriated the old “liberal” label, even though Gottfried thinks that they were generally guilty of patricide. Gottfried notes here the special importance of John Stuart Mill, who quite early on persuasively treated and valorized liberalism as the march of Progress, thereby making the word “liberal” expansive enough to encompass his own enthusiasms for social/economic planning, a global civilizing mission, and educational socialization. In Gottfried’s account of Mill one sees a technocratic sentimentalism that was to prove very influential. Gottfried views the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as failed managerial rivals to the American variant which came to be known as liberal democracy. Further, the aftermath of the war against Hitler along with the cold war against the Soviets helped strengthen and shape the social reformist dimensions of America’s managerial state. Left-wing, culturally radical Jewish Frankfurt school intellectuals who had fled to America from Nazi Germany waged war against “prejudice” by pathologizing opponents of the progressive state, demonizing an alleged “authoritarian personality” that threatened an explosion of anti-semitism and the reemergence of fascism if not rigorously countered. This psychological interpretation of/attack on unreconstructed opinions was used by an American managerial state that had decided to tackle anti-semitism and its much bigger problem of racial prejudice against blacks, issues that gained salience in the aftermath of Nazi atrocities and because of the ideological contest with the USSR. The global struggle against communism also provides context for the Immigration Act of 1965, which was intended as an extension of the civil rights movement and was responsive to global anti-colonial sentiment. Immigration expansion and the politics of inclusiveness at home helped raise to prominence a political creed that sanctified pluralism and global universalism. This now long-standing and evolving conception of pluralism is therapeutic, with the government deciding which groups obtain benefits (purported victims) and which suffer liabilities (purported victimizers), all in the name of general self esteem and maximal healing from the crimes of the non-pluralist past. Of course, this celebration of diversity is notoriously monochromatic, as critics and dissenters are marginalized and silenced. And a split has emerged within the managerial ranks, with the Left spearheading further “advances” such as multiculturalism and various lifestyle liberation agendas, and the conservative (neocon) establishment offering ineffective resistance to the mutating fruits of a therapeutic pluralism whose early triumphs during the anti-communist era are not only currently celebrated by establishment conservatives, but were actually advanced by the neocons back when they were known as cold war liberals. And since the neocons are global universalists who strive to export liberal democracy abroad, the evolving content of what this label represents means that both the establishment left and establishment right are complicit in the spread of coercive cultural radicalism abroad. This American brand of managerialism may not be as violent as its totalitarian competitors, but it is culturally far more corrosive. And since of the collapse of the Soviet Union, liberal democracy is uncontested as a managerial ideal and has gained many new converts on the Left. The managerial/therapeutic regime is breathtakingly powerful. As Gottfried summarizes, its strength rests upon a multitiered following: “an underclass and now middle-class welfariate, a self-assertive public sector, and a vanguard of media and journalistic public defenders. Upon the basis of this following, the regime and its apologists have been able to marginalize their opposition. This is apparent on, among other places, the now respectable or moderate Right. There a tolerated opposition offers tepid criticism of the administrative state while warning against populist extremism.” In effect, the moderate Right not only is ineffective against the increasing cultural radicalism of the managerial state, it polices its own ranks against the possible emergence of real opposition to managerialism! However, the liberal democratic managerial regime has its share of problems; in fact, one reason Gottfried thinks its defenders are so vicious in terms of shutting down dissent is because it is becoming increasingly obvious that positions to which they are committed do not hold up well under much scrutiny. Also, since the real legitimacy of the managerial regime which pretends to continue older traditions it has largely displaced rests almost entirely on its ability to “provide” materially for its constituents, it is especially vulnerable whenever the populace feels its physical safety is threatened or its standard of living is diminished. And there is much discontent over the never ending crusades on behalf of diversity and against intolerance, crusades that inevitably equate non-agreement with hostility and/or ignorance that must be overcome. Gottfried is of course sympathetic to populist disruptions of the managerial agenda, though he is sober enough to argue that no new alternate paradigm to liberal democracy presently exists and that therapeutic pluralism is not going away anytime soon. In addition, Gottfried warns that in America, populist attempts to short circuit the liberal democratic agenda should not present themselves as primarily movements of identitarian cultural resistance, since-as Pat Buchanan’s experience shows-there is not enough cultural unity here to win elections this way. Gottfried thinks a “stripped down” populism that focuses on economic grievances and physical safety issues more so than identitarian politics-though cultural concerns need not be ignored entirely- holds out some promise as a way to contest the managerial state. Gottfried’s advocation of a stripped down populism in 1999 seems very prophetic after the 2016 election. For instance, the Trump campaign stressed trade and immigration issues, with immigration framed mainly in terms of economic consequences for American workers and safety concerns regarding criminals and terrorists. And though plenty of Christians rallied to Trump over the pressing issue of religious liberty, no one could possibly mistake the winning candidate as some sort of cultural conservative. Because I find Gottfried such an illuminating thinker, I have made a point of reading 6 of his books. After Liberalism is the last of these books in my reading sequence, and the earliest one of the 6 that he wrote. For any prospective reader of Gottfried, I would say based on my experience that After Liberalism is the Gottfried book to start with. All his later books are meaningfully related to the compelling issues he raises here, and many of them elaborate on different aspects of After Liberalism’s wide ranging, broadly articulated argument. But though if one was to read just one Gottfried book this would be my recommendation, I would not stop here. All his books following After Liberalism are worthwhile, and new dimensions to Gottfried’s general argument emerge. (Consider for instance Gottfried’s treatment of the “Protestant deformation” in Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim Lundquist

    Gottfried's thesis is that self-government is dead. Modern intellectuals (journalists and professors) give marching orders to teachers, who condition students to accept the more dubious aspects of the multicultural project by tempting them with goodies from the welfare state, to which individuals are unable to resist. Self-government is over, says Gottfried, and liberals have been able to define liberalism in an unprecedented manner, and in so doing, have declared certain parts of politics off-l Gottfried's thesis is that self-government is dead. Modern intellectuals (journalists and professors) give marching orders to teachers, who condition students to accept the more dubious aspects of the multicultural project by tempting them with goodies from the welfare state, to which individuals are unable to resist. Self-government is over, says Gottfried, and liberals have been able to define liberalism in an unprecedented manner, and in so doing, have declared certain parts of politics off-limits, while also radically redefining the "vital center." Meh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shane

    Gottfried points out (p.103-105) that classical democracy required cultural homogeneity, whereas the managerial state vociferously seeks out pluralism, immigration, and integration to defuse racism and recondition the culture. And yet he still characterizes this managerial society as “democratic” distinguishing it from 19th century “liberalism.” Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it *aristocratic* managerialism? Koch-and-Soros sponsored immigration that upholds profit and undermines wages, plac Gottfried points out (p.103-105) that classical democracy required cultural homogeneity, whereas the managerial state vociferously seeks out pluralism, immigration, and integration to defuse racism and recondition the culture. And yet he still characterizes this managerial society as “democratic” distinguishing it from 19th century “liberalism.” Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it *aristocratic* managerialism? Koch-and-Soros sponsored immigration that upholds profit and undermines wages, placating the people with affirmative action and entitlements; a globalist aristocracy of late-capitalistic neo-feudalism with exchange-value free trade Austrian economics that utilizes outsourcing and foreign labor at the expense of the livelihoods of the bottom 90% of the country... How can a society that is constructed on free trade, interventionist warfare, mass immigration, and a welfare state be called liberal OR democratic? I think a better title of the book would be “After Liberalism: Neo-Feudal Aristocracy in the Managerial State.” Perhaps Gottfried is blinded by this point because of his own love for 19th century liberalism and his learned (through much reading of conservative theorists who don’t actually share his worldview) disgust at the word “democracy.” But a fantastic analysis nevertheless.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Oolalaa

    9/20

  7. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    Gottfried situates liberalism and democracy as two different essences. For me, Gottfried is best when he discusses how the Frankfurt School, at least semantically, replaces power with the therapeutic. The therapeutic society is ever evolving without discussion of power, or how we got here?, or where we're going. With or without knowing it Gottfried understands politics as we've entered the post-human turn. Gottfried situates liberalism and democracy as two different essences. For me, Gottfried is best when he discusses how the Frankfurt School, at least semantically, replaces power with the therapeutic. The therapeutic society is ever evolving without discussion of power, or how we got here?, or where we're going. With or without knowing it Gottfried understands politics as we've entered the post-human turn.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Monastyrskyj

  10. 4 out of 5

    ~

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Verhaegh

  12. 4 out of 5

    Evan Mclaren

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bruno

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Connolly

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex MacMillan

  16. 5 out of 5

    David F. Fischer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelse

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  20. 4 out of 5

    Arilando

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reggie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sól Kalika

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vagabond of Letters, DLitt

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jay Tee

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark Koyama

  27. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  28. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  29. 5 out of 5

    William Hunter

  30. 5 out of 5

    TUOMAINEN KARI

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