Chapter

The Paranoid Mind

in Richard Hofstadter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226076409
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226076379 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226076379.003.0007
The Paranoid Mind

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This chapter discusses some of Richard Hofstadter's qualities. Cheerful, even-tempered, and mild-mannered, Hofstadter avoided open conflict but eagerly lampooned the self-important and the ridiculous. Alert to the playful pitch of language and to the extraordinarily broad range of political attitudes that shaped American life, Hofstadter's suspicion of popular moods encouraged his interest in the “irrationality” of charismatic leaders and their constituencies. As a pluralist, he rejected the strident anticommunism that dominated public culture in the 1950s and hoped the 1960s might reinvigorate the “New Departure” of the New Deal. This chapter also elaborates on Hofstadter's book—The Paranoid Style, which was a pioneering study in the history of political pathology. This chapter also forces us to recognize the thin line between public mood and public policy, alienation and ideology. The idea that a paranoid style influences American political culture is inescapable. Yet it must be handled with circumspection rather than mechanically applied to a single group or ideology.

Keywords: The Paranoid Style; anticommunism; public policy; ideology; reinvigorate; alienation

Chapter.  7936 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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