Social Class and Democratic Leadership: Essays in Honor of E. Digby Baltzell

Social Class and Democratic Leadership: Essays in Honor of E. Digby Baltzell

Social Class and Democratic Leadership: Essays in Honor of E. Digby Baltzell

Social Class and Democratic Leadership: Essays in Honor of E. Digby Baltzell

Excerpt

E. Digby Baltzell came of intellectual age during the Second World War when he encountered the social and political destruction brought about by totalitarian regimes. Democratic governments believed to be durable, and social freedoms upheld by these governments, were swiftly crushed. The feeble resistance of many nations to their conquerors implied that vanquished and victor alike held no great love for democracy and its freedoms. For Baltzell and others of his generation the experience was shocking. Totalitarianism was an immediate danger that had to be fought. But it was also feared that even after its defeat totalitarianism would remain a potential danger, not merely from foreign sources, but from weaknesses in the western democracies themselves. A chief concern for many of this generation of Americans at the conclusion of the war was to identify and correct these weaknesses.

Issues of discrimination were raised in novels and the mass media; higher education was rapidly expanded; Fulbright scholarships were introduced to educate Americans and Europeans to each other's ways; liberalizing movements in childrearing and education became widespread; civil rights legislation was enacted -- these were among the public efforts made in the postwar years to strengthen American society. Research on religious, racial and ethnic prejudice; on the history, politics, sociology, and psychology of totalitarian societies; on demagogic leadership; on revolutionary movements; on "mass" societies; on personality dispositions toward totalitarian appeals, poured forth from universities after the Second World War. This type of research, of which this book is an example, continues to be done, although with different emphases.

Baltzell directed his efforts to understanding the wellsprings of American democracy, particularly democratic leadership. Of what does such leadership consist? What are its origins? How is it fostered? How may it be renewed? Sociology and history, the two disciplines he mastered to pursue these questions, became in his practice of them a unity, a single, many -- faceted discipline whose illuminating power is far greater than either of its parts. In this he has followed the example of his famous intellectual for-

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