01/09/06 - counterreaction

In today's excerpt - the idea that rapid change in society inevitably creates a counterreaction:

"Daniel Bell's words of 1963 remain true today:  'What the right wing is fighting in the shadow of Communism is essentially 'modernity'—that complex of beliefs that might be defined most simply as the belief in rational assessment rather than established custom, for the evaluation of social change—and what it seeks to defend is its fading dominance ... over the control of social change.  But it is precisely those established ways that a modernist America has been forced to call into question.'

"In the mid-ninteenth century, the nativist 'Know-Nothings' dreamed of a return to an earlier Protestant America without the growth of the new capitalism.  In the early twentieth century, a complex of Protestant nativist tendencies dreamed of an America without a whole set of new immigrant groups and also without the automobile (or at least its backseat) and its corrosive effects on sexual morality.  Today, much of the White middle classes in general (including, of course, Irish and many other ethnicities and mixtures) dream of an idealized version of the Eisenhower years of the 1950s ..."


Anatol Lieven


America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism


Oxford University Press


Copyright 2004 by Anatol Lieven


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