Books in Brief: October 2021

Homo Americanus, by Zbigniew Janowski (St. Augustine’s Press; 250 pp., $24.00).

Polish American political thinker Zbigniew Janowski examines the reasons that modern American democracy has taken a totalitarian turn. Contrary to the happy talk coming from establishment conservatives about the need to spread America’s so-called liberal democratic values everywhere, Janowski paints a dark but compelling picture of where America’s once strong constitutional institutions have gone. He depicts a country oscillating between moral arrogance and ritualized self-abasement, which can never quite decide whether it’s the salvation or bane of humanity, and which remains fixated on equality as the highest ideal.

Like his close friend Ryszard Legutko, who wrote the afterword to this volume and the insightful book The Demon in Democracy, Janowski does not worship at the altar of democratic equality. Moreover, he sees many of the cultural and social problems that beset present-day American society as having been...

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