This book argues that we can longer envision a political system that might practically displace democracy or, more accurately, global democratic state capitalism. Democracy has become fundamental: It extends deeper and deeper into everyday life; it grounds and limits our political thought and values. That is the sense in which we do indeed live at history's end. But this end is t a happy one, because the system that we w have does t satisfy tests that we can legitimately put to it. In this situation, it is important to come to new terms with the fact that literature, at least until about 1945, was predominantly hostile to political democracy. Literature's deep-seated conservative, counter-democratic tendencies, along with its capacity to make important distinctions among political, cultural, and experiential democracies and its capacity to uncover hidden, n-political democracies in everyday life, is w a resource t just for cultural conservatives but for all those who take a critical attitude toward the current political, cultural, and ecomic structures. Literature, and certain velists in particular, helps us t so much to imagine social possibilities beyond democracy as to understand how life might be lived both in and outside democratic state capitalism. Drawing on political theory, intellectual history, and the techniques of close reading, Against Democracy offers new accounts of the ethos of refusing democracy, of literary criticism's contribution to that ethos, and of the history of conservatism, as well as invative interpretations of a range of writers, including Tocqueville, Disraeli, George Eliot, E. M. Forster, and Saul Bellow.
SIMON DURING is an Australian Research Professor at the University of Queensland. His most recent books are Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic and Exit Capitalism: Literary Culture, Theory and Post-Secular Modernity.