Cover: The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy, from Harvard University PressCover: The Rhetoric of Reaction in PAPERBACK

The Rhetoric of Reaction

Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy

Product Details


$33.00 • £28.95 • €30.95

ISBN 9780674768680

Publication Date: 03/01/1991


224 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Belknap Press


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  • Preface
  • 1. Two Hundred Years of Reactionary Rhetoric
    • Three Reactions and Three Reactionary Theses
    • A Note on the Term “Reaction”
  • 2. The Perversity Thesis
    • The French Revolution and Proclamation of the Perverse Effect
    • Universal Suffrage and Its Alleged Perverse Effects
    • The Poor Laws and the Welfare State
    • Reflections on the Perversity Thesis
  • 3. The Futility Thesis
    • Questioning the Extent of Change Wrought by the French Revolution: Tocqueville
    • Questioning the Extent of Change Likely to Follow from Universal Suffrage: Mosca and Pareto
    • Questioning the Extent to Which the Welfare State Delivers the Goods to the Poor
    • Reflections on the Futility Thesis
  • 4. The Jeopardy Thesis
    • Democracy as a Threat to Liberty
    • The Welfare State as a Threat to Liberty and Democracy
    • Reflections on the Jeopardy Thesis
  • 5. The Three Theses Compared and Combined
    • A Synoptic Table
    • The Comparative Influence of the Theses
    • Some Simple Interactions
    • A More Complex Interaction
  • 6. From Reactionary to Progressive Rhetoric
    • The Synergy Illusion and the Imminent-Danger Thesis
    • “Having History on One’s Side”
    • Counterparts of the Perversity Thesis
  • 7. Beyond Intransigence
    • A Turnabout in Argument?
    • How Not to Argue in a Democracy
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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