Thursday, January 4, 2007

Semour Martin Lipset: 1922-2007

Seymore Martin Lipset, the influential sociologist, died on December 31st. In The First New Nation, he observed that

America was more fortunate than contemporary new states in that the European cutural values which its intellectuals identified with were not very different from those held by the majority of the population. In contemporary new nations, the young intellectuals are likely to be alienated from their own society because they feel drawn to cultures which speak a language foreign to most of the citizens of these societies... For eighteenth- and nineteenth century American intellectuals, London and other European capitals were the centers which had to be impressed. Only Europe's learning, literature, art, and higher education were viewed as good while America's--the product of "colonials and provincials"-- were viewed as inferior....such attitudes may foster anti-intellectualism and populism among nationalists of new states. Some of the intellectuals in America have shown a soaring "belief in the creativity and in the superior moral worth of the ordinary people," just as do intellectuals in the latter-day new states. Even Thomas Jefferson could write: "State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules"...

But as is well known, the leadership of the intellectuals in new states does not survive the first revolutionary generation.

Copyright © 1979, 1973 by Seymour Martin Lipset

No comments: