THE PROTESTANT ESTABLISHMENT: Aristocracy and Caste in America by Digby altzell

THE PROTESTANT ESTABLISHMENT: Aristocracy and Caste in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An incisive, if essentially repetitious, sociological study. Its thesis: the decline of an open society, which the author takes to be a traditionally aristocratic one, assimilating America's best talents regardless of race or religion, into a closed and divisive caste system controlled by an increasingly concentrated WASP power structure. It thus produces a mobility frustration at odds with affluent levelling and democratic opportunism. The illustrations relate both to the past and present, touching upon--fascinatingly sometimes--assorted melting pot perversities: Henry Adams and Brahmanism, the Coolidge era of Christ as an ""executive"" and immigration restrictions, the turn from Social Darwinism to Social Science, the rise of the New Deal Establishment and consequent liberalizations, the Conservative response to defensive snobbism at club, corporation, school; finally, the current conformity (Organization Men, the Radical Right, etc.), creating a leadership vacuum and perpetuating in subtle ways anti-Semitism, nativism, racist gospels and so forth. Though it leaves many questions unanswered and though it never attains the stature of similar probings (cf. Reisman, Mills and the recent Glazer/Moynihan one on N.Y. minorities), it is hard-hitting, well-researched, and undeniably controversial.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1964
Publisher: Randam House