The Culture Cultis an acerbic critique of that longing widespread in society today to ?retreat from civilization.? From Rousseau and the Noble Savage to modern defenders of ethnicity such as Isaiah Berlin and Karl Polanyi, a prominent intellectual tradition has over-romanticized the virtues of tribal life. In contrast, another tradition, represented by Karl Popper, Michael Polanyi, and Ernest Gellner, defends modern values and civil society. The Culture Cult discusses both sides of this divide between "culture" and "civilization," and between "closed" and "open" societies. The romantic insistence on the superiority of the primitive is increasingly grounded in a fictionalized picture of the past-a picture often created with the aid of well-meaning but misguided anthropologists. Such idealizations work to the detriment of the very people they are meant to help, for they isolate minorities from such undeniable benefits of modern society as literacy and health care, and discourage them from participating in modern life. Few will find comfort in The Culture Cult, but many will recognize a valuable criticism of currently popular social politics.

part I|68 pages

Romantic Primitivism

chapter 1|15 pages

The New Stone Age

chapter 2|19 pages

Designer Tribalism

chapter 3|14 pages

Enter the Noble Savage

chapter 4|16 pages

The Triumph of the Litterateur

part II|60 pages

Academic Primitivism

chapter 5|18 pages

What Karl Polanyi Found in Dahomey

chapter 6|21 pages

The Book of Isaiah

chapter 7|18 pages

Karl Popper in New Zealand

part III|49 pages

Civilization and Its Malcontents

chapter 8|20 pages

Why Cultures Succeed or Fail

chapter 9|27 pages

Civilization and Its Malcontents