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The Phantom Public

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  66 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In an era disgusted with politicians and the various instruments of "direct democracy," Walter Lippmann's The Phantom Public remains as relevant as ever. It reveals Lippmann at a time when he was most critical of the ills of American democracy. Antipopulist in sentiment, this volume defends elitism as a serious and distinctive intellectual option, one with considerable pre ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Transaction Publishers (first published 1927)
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Oct 06, 2015 Peter rated it really liked it
Walter Lippmann argues that members of the public are but “spectators of action,” (93)not the omnicompetent, sovereign beings assumed in democratic theory; nor is it possible for them to be. This, Lippmann argues, is a false ideal. (28) There are simply too many things to know and too little time to come to know them for anyone — average citizen, empowered elite — to become expert in everything. (28, among others) The make-up of the public varies from issue to issue; a person might be an expert/ ...more
Feb 15, 2010 Anittah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: peeps with vague political aspirations
I first read Walter "Cranky Pants" Lippmann my freshman year in college ("Drift and Mastery"); my nocturnal adolescent self particularly cherished his line about how societal norms force intelligent people to conform to sheep-scripts in order to maintain the respect of their peers -- sweet sweet nectar to the brain of someone from a Midwestern nerd-school newly adrift on the Gothic campus of an upper-crusty liberal arts college.

In "The Phantom Public", our favorite grouch directs his ire towards
Jul 30, 2011 Brian rated it did not like it
Shelves: politics
I would advise people to read this, and read it slowly. Find out about the man, who he worked with and what he did in the early 1900's. I felt totally annoyed when I finished this book and I'm not sure I know why.

I read a lot but this book made me feel uneasy because I wasn't sure I was getting the intended message and for that I feel annoyed. At times his prose was brilliant, I agreed and yet I wasn't sure I was agreeing with what I would think was true, like he was a politician running for of
Eric Gulliver
I believe this quote from the text sums up the general framework:

“The fundamental difference which matters is that between insiders and outsiders. Their relations to a problem are radically different. Only the insiders can make decisions, not because he is inherently a better man but because he is so placed that he can understand and can act. The outsider is necessarily ignorant, usually irrelevant and often meddlesome, because he is trying to navigate the ship from dry land. – In short, like th
Aug 07, 2010 Margie rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Margie by: Self
I learned about the bleak outlook with which Progressives view The People. The philosophies made me sick to my stomach because they are elitist and imply that The People don't have rights because they're too stupid to operate as a group. I found it interesting that in the movie "13 Days" that the President leaked disinformation to Lippmann because he knew Lippmann would blab it to the Russians. I thought Communism was dead in this country, but I have been brought back to the sickening reality th ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Kevinch417 rated it it was amazing
Super pessimistic about the average person. I loved every word of it.
Jun 22, 2013 Michael rated it it was ok
I came to read this some years ago after reading Noam Chomsky reference the book numerous times. This is a more entertaining read than Public Opinion, both more clearly cynical and also written in a much more chummy style. It's at times thought provoking.
Heather Bielecki
Jan 23, 2013 Heather Bielecki rated it liked it
Somewhat pessimistic about democracy without really any concrete solutions for alternatives except to leave it to the 'insiders'. However, it is classic poli sci literature.
Jan 21, 2010 Mg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Référence indispensable pour les réflexions sur la notion de "public"; à lire en dialogue avec Dewey, Le public et ses problèmes.
Sep 01, 2011 Martha marked it as wishlist
I would like this in the Kindle Edition, when it comes available.
Manda Lea
Dec 17, 2007 Manda Lea rated it really liked it
Oldie, but a goodie.
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  • The Public and its Problems
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  • American Progressivism: A Reader
  • The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry Into a Category of Bourgeois Society
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  • Social Contract: Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau
  • An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
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  • Crystallizing Public Opinion
  • Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics
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  • Liberalism and Democracy
Walter Lippmann was an American intellectual, writer, reporter, and political commentator who gained notoriety for being among the first to introduce the concept of Cold War. Lippmann was twice awarded (1958 and 1962) a Pulitzer Prize for his syndicated newspaper column, "Today and Tomorrow."
More about Walter Lippmann...

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“These various remedies, eugenic, educational, ethical, populist and socialist, all assume that either the voters are inherently competent to direct the course of affairs or that they are making progress towards such an ideal. I think [democracy] is a false ideal.” 6 likes
“All men desire their own perfect adjustment, but they desire it, being finite men, on their own terms.” 6 likes
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