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The Opium of the Intellectuals

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4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  109 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
Raymond Aron's 1955 masterpiece The Opium of the Intellectuals, is one of the great works of twentieth- century political reflection. Aron shows how noble ideas can slide into the tyranny of "secular religion" and emphasizes how political thought has the profound responsibility of telling the truth about social and political reality-in all its mundane imperfections and tra ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published July 15th 2007 by Transaction Publishers (first published 1955)
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Szplug
May 02, 2011 Szplug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although his name has recurrently cropped-up in books I've read over the past several years—in particular those of the late Tony Judt—I had yet to partake of Raymond Aron straight from the source, though I've a handful of his work on the shelves. His mild and genial appearance on the back cover—lean frame, jug-handle ears, depleted combover, ovoid skull with soft hound dog eyes and a pleasant smile—somewhat disarm the reader heading into TOOTI; but make no mistake, this is a challenging read, wr ...more
Hadrian
Sixty years after its original publication, this critique of Marxism and its adherents still functions well as a study of ideology. I originally thought this would be a curio of the Cold War, but it remains a pungent attack on violence and political extremes.

Marx himself said that religion was the opiate of the masses, and Simone Weil, a pious and original thinker herself, has countered that Marxism itself has devolved into religion in its 'lowest sense', another opiate for the people.

This boo
...more
Alex
Aug 22, 2013 Alex rated it it was amazing
A clear eyed attack on the moral shortcomings of French Marxist intellectuals in the 40s and early 50s. While this topic may seem exoteric, the book is an extremely important work of political philosophy about the contortions people will often go through in order to make a particular belief system fit with facts that do not support said belief. While this is an attack on Frenchman by a Frenchman, there are numerous cases where similar abuses were committed elsewhere, for example George Bernard S ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 22, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it it was amazing
France gave to liberalism some of these larger theorists (Bastiat in economy…) but liberalism is ever imposed in France. Worse,after second world war, the vast majority of the French intellectuals was Marxists.
There had only one person, a hero, a watchtower to fight against totalitarianism and blindness, it was Raymond Aron. Face to Sartre'delire, his school-fellow at Normal-Sup, it is the alone French intellectual to only keep the cool head.
The title is a paraphrase of Marx. Aron takes a malici
...more
Joe Donohue
Feb 17, 2016 Joe Donohue rated it really liked it
Why did so many people become fooled?
Doug
May 19, 2007 Doug marked it as to-read
Found Aron in Postwar, where he is highly regarded by the author as voice of reason. Want to check him out.
Victor
Jan 01, 2013 Victor added it
One of the best, one of the most important book in the 20th Century.
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Raymond-Claude-Ferdinand Aron (French: [ʁɛmɔ aʁɔ]; 14 March 1905 – 17 October 1983) was a French philosopher, sociologist, journalist, and political scientist.
He is best known for his 1955 book The Opium of the Intellectuals, the title of which inverts Karl Marx's claim that religion was the opium of the people – Aron argues that in post-war France, Marxism was the opium of intellectuals. In the b
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“The man who no longer expects miraculous changes either from a revolution or from an economic plan is not obliged to resign himself to the unjustifiable. It is because he likes individual human beings, participates in communities, and respects the truth, that he refuses to surrender his soul to an abstract ideal of humanity, a tyrannical party, and an absurd scholasticism. . . . If tolerance is born of doubt, let us teach everyone to doubt all the models and utopias, to challenge all the prophets of redemption and the heralds of catastrophe.

If they can abolish fanaticism, let us pray for the advent of the sceptics.”
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“The intellectual ... must try never to forget the arguments of the adversary, or the uncertainty of the future, or the faults of one’s own side, or the underlying fraternity of ordinary men everywhere.” 1 likes
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