- ISBN13: 9781566638746
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In this bracing collection of provocative essays, Michael Knox Beran examines the false benevolence that characterizes the power classes in contemporary America. Their enlightened pity for their fellow citizens, he charges, conceals an instinct for power rather than compassion. Mr. Beran argues that today’s elites have come to rely on a social philosophy that reduces people to a mass of social groups and types, obscures their individual humanity, and makes them easier to manipulate. While they tragically conceive their desire for authority as a form of virtue, the elite classes have set about remaking schools, rewriting the U.S. Constitution, dehumanizing charity, and making war on tradition in the name of a crude form of Social Darwinism.
Through readings of such inspired critics of the social imagination as Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Beran exposes the romance of dominion that underlies the philosophy of social benevolence, a philosophy that has steadily undermined the older and more valuable tradition that Edmund Burke associated with the moral imagination. In seeking to depose this moral impulse in the pantheon of culture, and enshrine the social imagination in its place, today’s elites have weakened not only liberalism but also conservatism-indeed society as a whole. Where the moral imagination is not regularly and habitually cultivated, Mr. Beran observes, where it ceases to have a place in education and art, in schools and in the town square, it becomes more difficult even for the best-intentioned among us to resist the allure of a narrow and obtuse self-righteousness.
Pathology of the Elites features a fresh voice of social criticism that is likely to raise hackles on both sides of the aisle.
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