The World Turned Inside Out: American Thought and Culture at the End of the 20th Century

The World Turned Inside Out: American Thought and Culture at the End of the 20th Century

James Livingston

Language: English

Pages: 191

ISBN: 0742535428

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The World Turned Inside Out explores American thought and culture in the formative moment of the late-20th century in the aftermath of the fabled Sixties. The overall argument here is that the tendencies and sensibilities we associate with that earlier moment of upheaval decisively shaped intellectual agendas and cultural practices—from the all-volunteer Army to the cartoon politics of Disney movies—in the 1980s and 90s. By this accounting, the so-called Reagan Revolution was not only, or even mainly, a conservative event. By the same accounting, the Left, having seized the commanding heights of higher education, was never in danger of losing the so-called culture wars. At the end of the 20th century, the argument goes, the USA was much less conservative than it had been in 1975. The book takes supply-side economics and "South Park" equally seriously. It treats Freddy Kreuger, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ronald Reagan as comparable cultural icons.

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guiding assumption of modern feminism—to wit, the important differences between males and females, apart from reproductive capacities, are historically determined cultural conventions and, as such, are the proper objects of intellectual scrutiny, social movements, and public policies. So the personal was definitely political; for Butler’s book was a profound critique of “the” subject presupposed by modern philosophy and modern science. Indeed, it recalled Heidegger’s excavation of the same

Excremental Visions South Park is a very different cartoon genre, although it certainly borrows from MTV—from, say, Beavis and Butthead. For its creators have gone to the extreme of animation and rendered every character as a little round cutout with eyes and a mouth, a circle that moves like a stage performer who is always face front, as if the world is a chorus line made of buttons. The differences between the figures on screen are made of voice and color and hats, so there’s not much point

consumption (of which more in a moment), and because all the unprecedented assistance offered to the banking system since the sale of Bear Stearns and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September—AIG, Washington Mutual, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the bailout package, the equity stake initiative, and so on—has not thawed the credit freeze. The markets, here and elsewhere, have responded accordingly, with extraordinary volatility. The liquidation of distressed assets after the Crash of 1929 was

University of Chicago Press, 1962) and The Road to Serfdom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1950); see the appendix above titled “Their Great Depression and Ours,” on how Friedman’s ideas became the mainstream in thinking about business cycles like the 2008–2009 economic crisis. Related ideas are explored in Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1949). Irving Kristol’s doubts about such ideas are registered in Two Cheers for Capitalism (New York: Basic,

the 1970s and 1980s, at least in the Western Hemisphere: see Phillip Berryman’s primer, Liberation Theology (New York: Random House, 1987), and David Tombs, Latin American Liberation Theology (Boston: Brill, 2002). Quotations and paraphrases in the text are from Gaudium at Spes (1965) and “Justice in the World” (1971). See also Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, trans. Sister Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Mary- knoll, NY: Orbis, 1973), which is probably the single most important

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