In Defense of Decadent Europe

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1996 - Business & Economics - 297 pages

Raymond Aron's "In Defense of Decadent Europe" was first conceived at a time of great uncertainty for the Western democracies. The postwar economic boom had been interrupted by "stagflation," while communist and socialist parties in Italy and France were powerful factors in Europe's political landscape. Aron's book has a threefold purpose: the analysis of the Soviet Russian regime and its Marxist-Leninist theoretical foundation; the detailed empirical comparison between liberal democracies and collectivist regimes of the East; and, above all, the exploration of what might be termed the "problem" of democracy the tendency of democratic regimes to undermine themselves unless checked in their most extreme tendencies.

Aron denounces the clash between democracy and the Marxist-Leninist mystification and explains how Marxism leads to Soviet-style ideology. The second part of the book constitutes a defense of liberal Europe. The author makes comparisons in terms of productivity, technical innovation, living standards, scientific progress, and human freedom. But Aron also notes there are important ways in which the West must put her house in order by cultivating authority in the church, in universities, in business, and even in the army. This paradox is conveyed by the title of the book, the juxtaposition of the words "In Defense of and Decadent Europe."

In the new introduction, Daniel Mahoney and Brian Anderson discuss the disenchanted conservative liberalism of Raymond Aron that set him apart. Among the topics they cover are: the challenge of ideocracy, the decadence of democracy, and Aron as a civic philosopher. "In Defense of Decadent Europe" combines ideological debate with economic and social analysis. Its thorough examination of Western freedom versus the Eastern communism of the recent past extends well beyond parochial debates into a basic vision of Western societies. The book will be compelling for historians, political scientists, economists, and philosophers.

 

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Contents

Europe mystified by MarxismLeninism
1
Marxs messianism and its misadventures
3
The major themes
4
The Marxism of the Second International
11
MarxismLeninism
14
the present situation
22
Ideocracy Marxism as state ideology
28
The revolutionary sect
29
Imperialism without empire
133
Lenin monopolycapitalism and imperialism
134
Surplus value and exploitation the center and the periphery
140
The conquering West
144
The Third World in the world economy
148
NorthSouth dialogue and the myth of the new world economic order
154
The weapons of peace or Western aid to the USSR?
161
Europe its own victim
169

The function of ideology Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov
33
Scepticism and faith
41
Soviet societies and their distinctive features
45
Western Marxism or the Vulgate
51
Philosophical reinterpretations
52
Marxism as critique and as dogma
57
the Western belief in progress
63
The final balance sheet
69
EastWest dialogue
72
Europe unaware of its own superiority
77
Socialist capital accumulation The ideas and the circumstances
80
War Communism and the NEP
84
The making of the Soviet model
90
Interpreting Stalinism
95
The persistence of the model
99
The undiscoverable socialism
104
Western productivity inefficiency and the Police State
106
Inequality and the evolution of the régime
114
The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
119
Social democracy and the nondoctrinal socialisms
124
No more miracles
173
Expansion inflation and the dollar
174
Crisis politics and living on credit
179
What monetary system?
185
The crisis continues
193
Selfdestruction by the liberal democracies?
198
The Western Communist parties
200
Communist collusion with the Christian Democrats in Italy
203
The Common Program of the Left
209
The British decline
214
Crisis of civilization?
224
authority in the institutions
231
License and repression Tocquevilles Law
236
Political and economic legitimacy
243
Crisis and creation
247
Two specters are haunting Europe freedom and the Red Army
252
Notes
265
Index
285
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