Raymond Aron's 1955 masterpiece The Opium of the Intellectuals, is one of the great works of twentieth- century political reflection. Aron shows how noble ideas can slide into the tyranny of "secular religion" and emphasizes how political thought has the profound responsibility of telling the truth about social and political reality-in all its mundane imperfections and tragic complexities.
Aron explodes the three "myths" of radical thought: the Left, the Revolution, and the Proletariat. Each of these ideas, Aron shows, are ideological, mystifying rather than illuminating. He also provides a fascinating sociology of intellectual life and a powerful critique of historical determinism in the classically restrained prose for which he is justly famous.
For this new edition, prepared by Daniel J. Mahoney and Brian C. Anderson as part of Transaction's ongoing "Aron Project," political scientist Harvey Mansfield provides a luminous introduction that underscores the permanent relevance of Aron's work. The new edition also includes as an appendix "Fanaticism, Prudence, and Faith," a remarkable essay that Aron wrote to defend Opium from its critics and to explain further his view of the proper role of political thinking. The book will be of interest to all students of political theory, history, and sociology.
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About the Author
Raymond Aron (1905-1983) was the foremost political and social theorist of post-World War II France known for his skeptical analyses of leftist ideologies. was well known in both the United States and United Kingdom, serving as Andrew D. White Professor-At-Large at Cornell University. He also taught at Columbia and Oxford. He authored more than forty books, including Main Currents in Sociological Thought, The Opium of the Intellectuals,and The Imperial Republic, all published in new editions by Transaction.
Brian C. Anderson is senior editor at City Journal and author of Raymond Aron: The Recovery of the Political. Daniel J. Mahoney is chair and professor of political science at Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the recipient of the Prix Raymond Aron Award, is currently associate editor of Perspectives on Political Science, and is book review editor of Society. His books include The Liberal Political Science of Raymond Aron; Bertrand de Jouvenel: The Conservative Liberal and the Illusions of Modernity; and De Gaulle: Statesmanship, Grandeur, and Modern Democracy. Harvey C. Mansfield is William J. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of many books including, Statesmanship and Party Government, The Spirit of Liberalism, and Taming the Prince and is the translator of works by Machiavelli and Tocqueville.