The Public Interest

Postmodern Populism

Vincent J. Cannato

Summer 1991

SUCCESS OFTEN breeds disillusionment. Noting some Americans’ ingratitude for their seeming good fortune, Daniel Boorstin asks, “Can we be surprised, then, that our characteristic national ailments are not misery, deprivation, or oppression, but malaise, resentment and bewilderment?” When the nation’s long journey in search of comfort, security, and the good life ended in the suburbs, this newfound paradise proved, to some, to be bland, sterile, and conformist. While ordinary Americans have largely rebounded from the self-doubt of the 1960s and 1970s, the malaise of many academics and molders of opinion continues to exhibit itself in a skeptical rethinking of some fundamental ideas about modernism in general and American society in particular. 

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