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Against the MassesVarieties of Anti-Democratic Thought Since the French Revolution$
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Joseph V. Femia

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198280637

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198280637.001.0001

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The Perversity Thesis

The Perversity Thesis

(p.16) 2 The Perversity Thesis
Against the Masses

Joseph V. Femia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The perversity thesis (that democratic reform will bring despotism) is explored through a critical analysis of the thought of its main exemplars: Burke, Maistre, Hegel, and Tocqueville. The thesis is divided into two subcategories, encompassing: (1) those who despised democracy because it violated their romantic vision of an organic society, and (2) those who feared democracy because it would create an atomized, mass society. The latter group of thinkers were less ‘reactionary’, and more willing to compromise with liberal and democratic ideas.

Keywords:   Burke, democracy, Hegel, Maistre, mass society, organic society, perversity thesis, romanticism, Tocqueville

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