Servants of Wealth: The Right's Assault on Economic Justice (Polemics)

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For 25 years now, the Right has been successfully using the rhetoric of freedom and democracy to build support for the politics of wealth and privilege. It has traveled a long way from earlier appearances as the marginalized defender of an idle and backward-looking upper crust and the patriotic champion of an aggrieved and ignored minority. The Right has dominated national politics because it has taken advantage of opportunity with patient organizing and close attention to a distinct set of core ideas. As the Right rose to power, it constructed a formidable mass base, built an impressive set of institutions, and developed a coherent ideology that was not afraid to address American politics. Everything that the Right has to say about world affairs, authority, race, morality, the state, and the economy, though, has served a single core project. Above all else, the Right has sought to eliminate social equality as a legitimate aim of public policy. Its success in doing so has facilitated one of the most dramatic, undemocratic, and dangerous transfers of wealth and power in recent American history. In this bold new book, political scientist John Ehrenberg critically analyzes the rise of an ideologically coherent Right. He dissects their themes of military weakness, moral decay, racial anxiety, and hostility to social welfare to reveal their central organizing objective of protecting wealth and assaulting equality.

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Rising economic inequality should be on the top of everyone's political agenda. With the gap between rich and poor, here and abroad, growing yearly, the issue will not go away. American democracy itself is at risk when so few people take home such a large share of the pie, and use their great wealth to corrupt and distort the political process. John Ehrenberg's Servants of Wealth makes clear why this is happening and what people who believe in real democracy and equal citizenship can do about it. Essential reading.--Charles Noble, author of The Collapse of Liberalism: Why America Needs a New Left

At last, a coherent, systematic, thoroughly documented, wonderfully clear, and critically astute analysis of the different threads of America's new ruling ideology. Unless one presents them all in their complex interconnections, one can't fully understand any of them. It is just this extraordinarily important but equally difficult task that Servants of Wealth performs with the skill and confidence of a major scholar at the height of his powers. Highly recommended for everyone who still wants to know where the worst blows from inside America are coming from, and why.--Bertell Ollman, New York University

Any American who wants to understand how the American Right has engineered the most potent assault on equality in the nation's history must read John Ehrenberg's Servants of Wealth. Ehrenberg shows how conservative intellectuals, building on the American public's legitimate fear of disorder and economic stagnation, created a formula for national renewal based on discrediting the regulatory powers of the national state and the very idea of equality. The best way to guarantee the common good, they claimed, was to dismantle the welfare state, shrink the federal government for all functions other than national defense, unleash the powers of the market, and reduce taxes on the wealthy. Twenty-five years after this campaign began, we can see the results--a federal government paralyzed in the face of a major hurricane, rampant and growing levels of economic and racial inequality, a concentration of wealth among the top five percent of the population unprecedented in modern American history. Anyone who wants to understand the intellectual underpinnings of this tragic state of affairs should read Ehrenberg's thoughtful and eloquent book.--Mark Naison, professor of African American studies and history at Fordham University and co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association

John Ehrenberg brilliantly reconstructs the intellectual origins of the Right's contemporary assault on equality and democracy, dissecting its toxic brew of militarism, racism, moral authoritarianism, free market mythology, and concomitant liberal default. It is an eye-opening account of how half the American population came to support a government dedicated solely to the upward redistribution of wealth. It's essential reading for understanding both how we got to where we are, and what might be done to reverse the course toward a one-party state.--Philip Green, author of Primetime Politics: The Truth about Conservative Lies, Corporate Control, and Television Culture

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In this bold new book, political scientist John Ehrenberg critically analyzes the rise of an ideologically coherent Right. He dissects their themes of military weakness, moral decay, racial anxiety, and hostility to social welfare to reveal their central organizing objective of protecting wealth and assaulting equality.

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