The Unconscious Civilization

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, 1999 - Philosophy - 208 pages
4 Reviews
John Ralston Saul argues that while Fascism was defeated in World War II, its "corporatist" doctrines powerfully influence our own society today. Saul explores how these corporatist priorities have now become so woven into our social fabric that they threaten the practice of Western democracy. Our civic order, Saul argues, has been remade to serve the needs of business managers and technocrats. In turn, other parts of society have come to mimic this arrangement as they themselves fracture into competing interest groups and ethnic blocs, virtually eliminating the role of the citizen. This largely unseen social order has deep and vexing roots in Western thought. Saul examines how this structure is bolstered today by political and intellectual charlatans who misleadingly describe it as a "common sense" arrangement, rather than what it is: an insidious war of attrition against the individual as citizen and the delicate system of open dialogue and doubt that alone guarantees the future of democracy.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

This is a book of Massey lectures about the lack of real progress and the interface of economic policy and intellectual stagnation since 1980. Smoothly written and fairly penetrating. Sort of backup for my theories on 1980 as the end of Western Civilization's growth. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dazzyj - LibraryThing

A concise and precise diagnosis of the fundamental ills of modern civilisation. (Yes, I know how hyperbolic that sounds.) Urgent and, from the vantage point of today's post September 11/Irag War/GFC world, thoroughly prescient. Read full review


The Great Leap Backwards
From Propaganda to Language
From Corporatism to Democracy
From Managers and Speculators to Growth
From Ideology Towards Equilibrium 254

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1999)

John Ralston Saul is the International President of PEN International, an essayist, novelist, and long-time champion of freedom of expression. His works have been translated into twenty-three languages in thirty countries, are widely taught in universities, and central to the debate over contemporary society in many countries. They include the philosophical trilogy: Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, The Doubter's Companion, The Unconscious Civilization, and its conclusion, On Equilibrium. In The Collapse of Globalism, he predicted today's economic crisis. In the autumn of 2012, he published his first novel in fifteen years, Dark Diversions: A Traveller’s Tale, a picaresque novel about the life of modern nouveaux riches.

His awards include South Korea’s Manhae Grand Prize for Literature, the Pablo Neruda Medal, Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction, the inaugural Gutenberg Galaxy Award for Literature, and Italy's Premio Letterario Internazionale. He is a Companion in the Order of Canada and a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. He is the recipient of seventeen honorary degrees.

Bibliographic information