The Perversity Thesis

Joseph V. Femia

in Against the Masses

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780198280637
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599231 | DOI:
 The Perversity Thesis

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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

Chapter.  24283 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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