LAND OF IDOLS by Michael Parenti


Political Mythology in America
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 Radical social-critic Parenti (Make-Believe Media, The Sword and the Dollar, etc.) returns, isolating and condemning certain ideological underpinnings of modern American life and casting a baleful eye on everything from New Age hype to more familiar racist, sexist, and capitalist targets. In a survey that covers all the bases but breaks little new ground, the first myths to receive scrutiny are those that foster an apathetic, passive citizenry. Ranging from the cynicism of adages like ``You can't fight City Hall'' and ``The more things change, the more they stay the same'' to equally limiting visions of self-empowerment and inner growth, which promote the individual at the expense of the community, these notions serve the insidious purposes of superpatriots and fundamentalists admirably. In spite of the evidence, Parenti says, the common view of America as a classless society retains its place in politics and culture, with those surviving on wages and those thriving on unearned income lumped together to blur the line between exploiter and exploited. A monopoly culture keeps the class lines from being redrawn or made manifest, as everything from the arts and media to universities are left largely in the control of corporate entities that would ensure the hegemony of capitalism. Progress has been made in improving the status of African-Americans and in lessening the victimization of women, but change has come about only through strife and broad- based social movements--with the powers-that-be resisting at every step, vigilant always to regain lost ground should the political tide turn again in their favor. Eloquently argued and provocative, but those seeking a solid progressive agenda for a post-cold-war America will be disappointed.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09841-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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