Waiting for the Barbarians
By: Lewis H. Lapham
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With invective all the more deadly for its grace and wit, Lapham presents the portrait of a feckless American establishment gone large in the stomach and soft in the head. His acerbic remarks on the 1996 Presidential election take into account Steve Forbes' primary campaign, the non-candidacy of General Colin Powell, the comings and goings of Dick Morris, Senator Bob Dole's triumphant return to television as a pitchman for Air France, the building of Hilary Rodham Clinton's Potemkin village in Iowa, and the sublime vacuity of President Clinton's inaugural address. A previously unpublished and substantial concluding piece looks at the fate of indolent ruling classes through history. "Our American political classes, being themselves complicit in the well-financed banditry at large in the world, come and go talking of Hilary Clinton's astrologer and the sins of children's television, about the wickedness of the National Arts Endowment and Bill Clinton's Penis. Their insouciance unnerves me.
The barbarism implicit in the restless energies of big-time, global capitalism requires some sort of check or balance, if not by a spiritual doctrine or impulse, then by a lively interest in (or practice of) democratic government. The collapse of communism at the end of the Cold War removed from the world's political stage the last pretense of a principled opposition to the rule of money, and the pages of history suggest that oligarchies unhindered by conscience or common sense seldom take much interest in the cause of civil liberty."
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