Anti-Intellectualism In American Life

Anti-Intellectualism In American Life



The Pequod Review:

Anti-Intellectualism In American Life is Richard Hofstader’s most ambitious and ultimately least successful book, a series of essays on religion and politics that attempt to trace the declining influence of intellect and expertise in American society. The book is sporadically interesting, but unfortunately is too often a barely concealed expression of status anxiety from the intellectual class. Naturally Hofstadter's diagnosis of the problem is flattering to him and his fellow academics since it lays the blame for this unfortunate circumstance with primarily Protestantism and our social institutions, rather than intellectuals themselves. Even worse, the book's thesis would turn out to be wrong, or at least significantly incomplete, when the political activism of the 1960s was inspired in large part by political intellectuals.

Of course, there undoubtedly *is* a strain of anti-intellectualism in American society, one that runs right through to the George W. Bush and Donald Trump administrations. A rigorous and detailed analysis of this phenomenon would make for a very interesting book. Unfortunately, Richard Hofstadter has not written that book.