Mark's Reviews > Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West

Voltaire's Bastards by John Ralston Saul
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's review
Oct 25, 2011

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bookshelves: history, philosophy
Read from October 18 to 24, 2011

This is a very interesting work. Although two decades old, it does contain ideas which are no less- if not just- as valid as they were when the author proposed them. Amongst these are criticisms of the trend since "the Enlightenment" (whatever that was supposed to mean!)of logicians and technocrats to hide their inefficiencies and prejudices, injustices and genocides, beneath a sophistry of hypocritical and cross-purposing propaganda agendas. There is a lot picked to shreds here including:
The pretenses of popular democracy, capitalism & the free market vs. social interest, bureaucracy and politics, law and state violence. And that's only in the first half. The second half deals with the cult of celebrity, and how the star system (beginning with Marie Antionette, who apparently told them all "let them eat brioche" [NOT "cake"!])got going and has replaced real social value with fame for fame's sake. He also analyses changes in literature via the novelist, and the writers "who write about writing" as two accordingly divergent developments.
This book was highly entertaining and though it comes to something of a whimper of an ending, nonetheless, is a very valid and well-constructed piece of social analysis and criticism.
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