The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy

The Rhetoric of Reaction Perversity Futility Jeopardy With engaging wit and subtle irony Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures thinkers and polemicists have been arguing ag

  • Title: The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy
  • Author: Albert O. Hirschman
  • ISBN: 9780674768680
  • Page: 455
  • Format: Paperback
  • With engaging wit and subtle irony, Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures, thinkers, and polemicists have been arguing against progressive agendas and reforms for the past two hundred years.Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to theWith engaging wit and subtle irony, Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures, thinkers, and polemicists have been arguing against progressive agendas and reforms for the past two hundred years.Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to democratization and the drive toward universal suffrage in the nineteenth century, and to the welfare state in our own century In each case he identifies three principal arguments invariably used 1 the perversity thesis, whereby any action to improve some feature of the political, social, or economic order is alleged to result in the exact opposite of what was intended 2 the futility thesis, which predicts that attempts at social transformation will produce no effects whatever will simply be incapable of making a dent in the status quo 3 the jeopardy thesis, holding that the cost of the proposed reform is unacceptable because it will endanger previous hard won accomplishments He illustrates these propositions by citing writers across the centuries from Alexis de Tocqueville to George Stigler, Herbert Spencer to Jay Forrester, Edmund Burke to Charles Murray Finally, in a lightning turnabout, he shows that progressives are frequently apt to employ closely related rhetorical postures, which are as biased as their reactionary counterparts For those who aspire to the genuine dialogue that characterizes a truly democratic society, Hirschman points out that both types of rhetoric function, in effect, as contraptions designed to make debate impossible In the process, his book makes an original contribution to democratic thought.The Rhetoric of Reaction is a delightful handbook for all discussions of public affairs, the welfare state, and the history of social, economic, and political thought, whether conducted by ordinary citizens or academics.

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    1. Albert O. Hirschman

      Albert O. Hirschman Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy book, this is one of the most wanted Albert O. Hirschman author readers around the world.

    917 thoughts on “The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy”

    1. What is the 'perversity' argument? Any attempt to change society will instead result in the opposite occurring. What is the 'futility' argument? Any change is meaningless and that human society will remain the same. What is the 'jeopardy' argument? Any change will have too much cost, and would endanger society or some previous reform. These are the three types of arguments which conservatives (or, to use Hirschman's more descriptive term, 'reactionaries') use to any reform. Many of these same ar [...]


    2. I almost do not want to give this book four stars, for Hirschman is at times too brief. His statements about the flaws in certain reactionary arguments are short and therefore lack bite. Yet, he does a fair job of exploring three common conservative arguments against reform and revolution. His most effective passage is on the perverse effect of Burke's argument in favor of slow change and minor reforms, the perverse effect being that it can spurn radical change in places where slow reform is bot [...]



    3. ALBERT HIRSCHMANN -Gericiliğin (Reaksiyonerliğin/Muhafazkarlığın) Retoriği :*İlerici ve muhafazakarların, kesin olmayan fikirlerle anlamlı tartışmalar yaptığı dostça-demokrasi istemeliyiz (Bamberg Katedrali'ndeki Tartışan İki Peygamber figürü gibi).*Muhafazakârlık argümanı sadece Emir Kipleri ile biçimlenegelmiştir ve reform/ devrimlere şu kategorilerinden saldırır:-AKSİ TESİRE YOL AÇAR (Fransız Devrimi sonrasında Bonapartizm'e yani despotizme yol açmıştır), [...]


    4. A slim and extremely useful meditation on the forms that reactionary arguments--which Hirschman cleverly defines as those arguments which deny not so much the validity of an aspiration to change, but simply the practicality, safety, or governability of a recommended alteration in the status quo--routinely, almost deterministically fall into. His point here is to show that reactionary arguments are not the product of case-specific reasoning against a given social, political, or economic change, b [...]


    5. Pretty easy read. Great analysis of political rhetoric in the modern times. The same basic arguments have been made since the French Revolution regarding trying to make political progress towards democracy, liberalism, better living/working conditions. The three types of arguments is that a specific political-economic change will make things worse (perversity), that trying to make such a change will not make things any better (futility) or that it will put all progress so far made into jeopardy. [...]


    6. This is a terrific short book by the author of "Exit, Voice,Loyalty" - and like it combines some penetrating thought with historical examples of political and economic rhetoric. The point is to show how discourse that is strongly opposed to political/economic change has some standard lines of attack that can be identified acrosso a wide range of changes. The first is perversity -- that change will lead to the opposite of what those initiating change want - an unintended consequences argument. Th [...]


    7. An excellent look at the arguments reactionaries make in response to various kinds of political reform, as well as, in a later chapter, arguments made by progressives. Hirschman critiques reactionary arguments and discusses why such arguments are made and why they are often accepted. Highly recommended for anyone interested in political rhetoric.


    8. A short, useful, and insightful book about political rhetoric. Hirschman's "The Rhetoric of Reaction" was published in 1991, a time when those on the left and center-left were trying to understand the conservative turn in politics of the past decade. Hirschman focuses not on the conservatives themselves (the psychoanalyzing of political ideology that one can often see), but on their arguments. To do this, he analyzes the responses from reactionaries to three different waves of progress: (1) the [...]



    9. I am not sure that I'm fully convinced by Hirschman's attempt to expose "the simplicity of reactionary rhetoric" -I guess I could find some really powerful argumentation among them, even if I am much more inclined to side with progressives in most cases. Hirschman is too brief on individual thinkers. But I liked the book (in the idea that there are identifiable-similar-recurring structures of rhetorics in political thought) and think it is an important text in intellectual history.


    10. Hirshman examines over several centuries reactionary conservative objections to progressive social policies based on the idea that forward change will either be futile, will have an effect that is the opposite of its desired effect (perversity), and/or will put some other policy in jeopardy.


    11. One of the greatest books I’ve ever read. You can put any controversial conversation that currently is happening in any society into Hirshman’s framework and see the continuing resistance of the reactionary forces.



    12. Having only heard of Hirschman recently through the media obituaries, I decided to read some of his work. This was a clear appraisal of reactionary rhetoric from late in his career and I found it to still apply today. Recommended.



    13. Look - I know this is Atul Gawande's favorite book or whatever, but all this hypothetical philosophizing is exhausting for my simple brain.


    14. didn't read it all, so I'm kind of cheating here. it was interesting though, provided some new angles to my analysis.


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