Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Against the MassesVarieties of Anti-Democratic Thought Since the French Revolution$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Joseph V. Femia

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198280637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198280637.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 April 2021

Introduction and Preview

Introduction and Preview

(p.1) 1 Introduction and Preview
Against the Masses

Joseph V. Femia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

After discussing the various definitions of democracy, the chapter laments the paucity and inadequacy of the literature on anti‐democratic thought. Hirschman's three categories of ‘reactionary’ thought—perversity, futility, and jeopardy—are then introduced and defended. The perversity thesis holds that progressive reformers will achieve the opposite of what they intended; the futility thesis claims that they will achieve nothing at all (owing to the refractory nature of reality); and the jeopardy thesis expresses the fear that any success they might have would be at the expense of cherished values. The chapter maintains that all anti‐democratic thought can be fitted into these categories, and that anti‐democratic arguments rely, in the main, on the idea of unanticipated consequences.

Keywords:   anti‐democratic thought, democracy, futility thesis, Hirschman, jeopardy thesis, perversity thesis, reactionary thought, unanticipated consequences

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .