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The Phantom Public

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  102 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, 244 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Routledge (first published 1927)
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Peter
Oct 06, 2015 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
Brian
Feb 05, 2010 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
...more
Margie
Mar 07, 2010 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
Anittah
Apr 24, 2009 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
...more
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
...more
Michael
Jun 22, 2013 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.
Kevinch417
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Super pessimistic about the average person. I loved every word of it.
Martha
Sep 01, 2011 marked it as wishlist
I would like this in the Kindle Edition, when it comes available.
Mg
Jan 21, 2010 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.
Heather Bielecki
Jan 23, 2013 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.
Manda Lea
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oldie, but a goodie.
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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."

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