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“The roots of American liberalism are not compassion but snobbery. So argues historian Fred Siegel in The Revolt Against the Masses. Siegel traces the development of liberalism from the cultural critics of the post WWI years to the gentry liberals today, and he shows how the common thread is scorn for middle-class Americans and for America itself. This is a stunningly original—and convincing—book.”
   — Michael Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the
      American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics

 

 

This short book rewrites the history of modern American liberalism. It shows that what we think of liberalism today – the top and bottom coalition we associate with President Obama - began not with Progressivism or the New Deal but rather in the wake of the post-WWI disillusionment with American society. In the twenties, the first writers and thinkers to call themselves liberals adopted the hostility to bourgeois life that had long characterized European intellectuals of both the left and the right. The aim of liberalism’s foundational writers and thinkers such as Herbert Croly, Randolph Bourne, H.G. Wells, Sinclair Lewis and H.L Mencken was to create an American aristocracy of sorts, to provide a sense of hierarchy and order associated with European statism.


“Fred Siegel’s superb The Revolt Against the Masses should be required reading for those who wonder how liberal elites came to dominate our culture, overriding the will of the people. Siegel’s book is history at its best and most relevant.”
— Roger L. Simon, Academy Award–nominated screenwriter, author, and founder of PJ Media

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“In The Revolt Against the Masses, Fred Siegel reveals the intellectual underpinnings of today’s ascendant gentry liberalism, which leaves old-fashioned liberals, including, I suspect, Siegel himself, politically homeless. The increasingly anti-democratic character of liberalism also undermines much of the reason we became progressives in the first place, which was to help the middle and working classes. The gentry’s stridency and hypocrisy—what’s OK for them is not for everyone else—is utterly transforming liberalism today. The progressives portrayed in this book are not so much the heirs of Jefferson or Jackson or even Roosevelt, as they are the American heirs of the worst high-toned Tories.”
— Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050


Fred Siegel is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership, a City Journal contributing editor, and an expert on market-friendly public-policy solutions for urban governance. For many years he made his intellectual home at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Before joining the faculty of Cooper Union, Mr. Siegel was a visiting professor of modern American history at the University of Paris. A former fellow at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he is currently scholar-in-residence at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn.

 

 

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