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American Perspectives


Ramashray Roy

IDEOLOGY AND UTOPIA IN THE UNITED STATES: 1956-1976
By Irving Louis Horowitz
Oxford University Press, New York, 1977, 5.95

VOLUME II NUMBER 6 November-December 1977

Ideology and Utopia in the United States in 1956-1976 represents the writ­ings of Irving Louis Horowitz over a period of twenty years. Consequently, topics discussed in the book range from the Politics of Assassination to the Revo­lution of Falling Expectations. It is true that the author has tried to give a sem­blance of organization to the diversity of themes brought together between the covers of this book. A total of twenty­-four themes have, for instance, been classified into six broad areas: Presiden­tial Politics, Class-Race Politics, Ideolo­gical Politics, Sociological Politics, Mili­tary Politics and The End of Politics. However, the bunching of disparate themes under broad categories does not help the reader in obtaining an overview of the American political scene. The interconnections are too tenuous to pro­vide coherence to the perspective one would like to have on American politics. As the author himself recognizes, ‘the route is more circuitous, thereby demanding of the readers a somewhat greater commitment...’. And yet he finds justi­fication for his classification in that it has the ‘advantage of an intellectual journey. It does not gloss over the reality of the moment for the sake of an arbitrary unity; nor does it avoid crucial issues that are lost as a consequence of fading memory rather than real change in the American society.’ The reality of the moment, no doubt, stimulates intellectual ferment. How­ever, this ferment, to escape becoming insignificant, must transcend the moment and relate coherently to the author’s intellectual perspective on American society. While one may agree with the author that the articles included in the volume are not just a pot-pourri of obser­vations over time, the fact remains that themes discussed are diverse. This makes the task of the reviewer somewhat diffi­cult. One can do nothing more than select a few aspects of the argument to discuss. Horowitz wields a master pen. His sharp analytical power, deep understand­ing of the various issues he tackles, cla­rity of thinking, and lucidity of language are amply reflected in the book under review. Also reflected is his grasp of various issues that have shaped and stirred American society in the last twenty years. He discusses with impassioned objectivity the traumas that have shaken American society to its roots and analy­ses with keen perception the still unresolved questions that the American political system must ...


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