The Phantom Public (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, Dec 31, 2011 - Medical - 195 pages
4 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 precursors in the American past. Lippmann's demythologized view of the American system of government resonates today.

The Phantom Public discusses the "disenchanted man" who has become disillusioned not only with democracy, but also with reform. According to Lippmann, the average voter is incapable of governance; what is called the public is merely a "phantom." In terms of policy-making, the distinction should not be experts versus amateurs, but insiders versus outsiders. Lippmann challenges the core assumption of Progressive politics as well as any theory that pretends to leave political decision making in the hands of the people as a whole.

In his biography Walter Lippmann and the American Century, Ronald Steel praised The Phantom Public as "one of Lippmann's most powerfully argued and revealing books. In it he came fully to terms with the inadequacy of traditional democratic theory." This volume is part of a continuing series on the major works of Walter Lippmann. As more and more Americans are inclined to become apathetic to the political system, this classic will be essential reading for students, teachers, and researchers of political science and history.


What people are saying - Write a review

Review: The Phantom Public

User Review  - Michael - Goodreads

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. Read full review

Review: The Phantom Public

User Review  - Heather Bielecki - Goodreads

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. Read full review

Selected pages


Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Part II
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Part III
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI

Chapter VIII
Chapter IX

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2011)

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was the author of many books on political thought and was widely considered America’s most distinguished syndicated columnist. In addition to being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he won two Pulitzer Prizes for his newspaper column “Today and Tomorrow,” which appeared in the New YorkHerald Tribune.

Bibliographic information