In the 1850s the social and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville spoke of ‘a virus of a new and unknown kind’ to explain the inexplicable failure of the French Revolution. This book uses Tocqueville’s idea of the virus to explore the fatal relationship between the concepts of utopia and dystopia in western social and political thought. It traces this relationship from Ancient Greece to post-modern America and attempts to untangle their apparently fatal connection through a new virology that might promote a less paranoid future for our global society.
Introduction: Tocqueville’s Virus Part I: Ancients and Moderns 1. Freedom and Tyranny in Socrates and Plato 2. Friends, Enemies, and the Cosmology of Power Politics 3. The Mechanisation of Society and the Pathologies of the Self Part II: The Madness of Modernity 4. Modernity and Schizophrenia 5. Autism, Paranoia, Critique Part III: Totalitarianism 6. Arendt’s Theory of Totalitarianism 7. Arendt’s Paranoia Critique of Modernity. Conclusion: America, Nation of the Edge. Bibliography