Luther's Reviews > Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Achieving Our Country by Richard M. Rorty
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Jul 30, 12

bookshelves: criticism, history, philosophy, pragmatism, rhetoric
Read from July 23 to 30, 2012

Because it is written to a broader audience, this book by Rorty is much easier to read than his famous Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. In it, he compares "the Left" in the U.S. before and after the 1960's.

He suggests that there has not really been a politically active Left in the past several decades because there has been a shift from a focus on helping people "who were humiliated by poverty and unemployment" to helping people "who are humiliated for reasons other than economic status" (80). The latter part has been done by the "Cultural Left," often outside of the domain of politics, which has suited well the super rich who run the country (and the world). They are happy to allow people into the "overclass" (the top 25% economically -- not the elite rich), as long as the focus in society is on cultural diversity instead of economic fairness.

This book is challenging and motivating in many ways. It is an example of the kind of book Rorty discusses in his appendix, "The Inspirational Value of Great Works." It does not simply try to impart knowledge; it also seeks to inspire hope, and hopefully action. In this way it is "Leftist" because hope for a better future is the domain of the Left (in contrast to the Right, which either wishes to return to a perceived ideal past or protect a perfect present).
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