American liberalism after the Second World War turned against the legacies of the New Deal era. Rather than extending the reforms of the 1930s, many expressions of postwar liberal thought recast organizational politics as enfeebling, alienating, or tyrannical. Land of Tomorrow examines the ideas and cultural sensibilities that caused this radical shift in the tenor of American liberalism.
To account for these changes in American liberal sentiment, Benjamin Mangrum looks to some of the most influential writers, critics, and intellectuals of the postwar decades-including Ralph Ellison, Vladimir Nabokov, Lionel Trilling, Flannery O'Connor, and Saul Bellow, as well as the American reception of Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, and many other European thinkers. By revising established accounts of this body of cultural work, Mangrum charts the legitimization of new
political sensibilities within the nation's intellectual life. These sensibilities opposed a social democratic order and unleashed a new kind of liberalism, one which centered on ideas about authenticity, alienation, self-management, psychological templates for societal problems, and private judgments of
value. This confluence of literary, intellectual, and political history gives us a window onto the basic assumptions and key conceptual terrain of liberal thought after 1945. Land of Tomorrow thus offers a provocative cultural prehistory of political thinking's forms that remain with us today.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 440 g
Dimensions: 243 x 165 x 20 mm
Land of Tomorrow may be the most ambitious and powerful attempt, since Stanley Cavell's reading of popular culture in Pursuits of Happiness, to engage in a critical reflection on the diverse ways literature and film shape American politics, projections, and disillusions in the postwar twentieth century. Benjamin Mangrum, an excellent specialist of American literature and of the complex history of ideas in the twentieth century, examines with
remarkable detail and attentive-though highly personal-scholarship the early ambiguities in liberal culture and politics that kept it open to future vulnerabilities. This book is erudite, exciting, and timely, offering insights into the difficulties of institutional democracy today. * Sandra Laugier, Universite Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne
I congratulate Benjamin Mangrum on a brilliant book. He has a superb sense of how fiction contributes to intellectual life by conferring prestige on various aspects of 'the granular complexity of the history of ideas.' He makes good on his analytical principles by showing how American fiction's resistance to conformism and its turn to therapeutic cultures of self-regard so transformed the activist managerial state fundamental to the liberal legacy left by Roosevelt
that liberalism lacked the power to resist successfully a newly refurbished conservatism. * Charles F. Altieri, University of California, Berkeley
Over the last eight decades, a critique of the dehumanizing effects of large modern organizations in general was somehow transformed into a critique of one institution-government-set against the putative realm of freedom and agency embodied by capitalist corporations. In Land of Tomorrow, Benjamin Mangrum tells the early story of this shift not as the product of conservative pundits, but rather of liberal thinkers who abandoned an interest in reorganizing
society for an interest in promoting individual authenticity. A work of political theory, a work of literary criticism, and above all a work that proves how closely the two realms were related in the mid-twentieth century, Land of Tomorrow belongs on the bookshelves of everyone who wants to understand the
longstanding political consensus from which we are only now beginning to depart. * Andrew Hoberek, University of Missouri