The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul. New York. 1997. Free Press. 199 pages. Jacket design by Tom Stvan. Jacket photograph by Philip Wallick/PPD International. Author photograph by Beverley Rockett. 0684832577. January 1997.





   Civilizations, like individuals, are often blinded to their true character by sentiment and ideology - and ours is perhaps the most glaring example. In a powerful meditation already hailed as ‘the best work of popular philosophizing produced in this country in a decade or more’ (The Globe and Mail), John Ralston Saul argues that while Fascism was defeated in World War II, its ‘corporatist’ doctrines powerfully influence our own society today. Saul explores how these corporatist priorities have now become so woven into our social fabric that they threaten the practice of Western democracy. Our civic order, Saul argues, has been remade to serve the needs of business managers and technocrats. In turn, other parts of society have come to mimic this arrangement as they themselves fracture into competing interest groups and ethnic blocs, virtually eliminating the role of the citizen. This largely unseen social order has deep and vexing roots in Western thought. Saul examines how this structure is bolstered today by political and intellectual charlatans who misleadingly describe it as a ‘common sense’ arrangement, rather than what it is: an insidious war of attrition against the individual as citizen and the delicate system of open dialogue and doubt that alone guarantees the future of democracy. An international bestseller whose publication is widely regarded as a pivotal event, THE UNCONSCIOUS CIVILIZATION is a crucible of contemporary thought from a writer possessed of the originality and power to elevate today’s debate above its present limits and expose our system in a light both terrifying and profound.



Saul John RalstonJOHN RALSTON SAUL is an internationally renowned novelist and essayist and the author of VOLTAIRE’S BASTARDS and THE DOUBTER’S COMPANION, among other works. Named one of Utne Reader’s 100 visionaries, he gave the prestigious 1995 Massey Lectures at the University of Toronto, on which THE UNCONSCIOUS CIVILIZATION is based. Translated into several languages, the book has been a Canadian bestseller for close to a year.










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