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A Road To Nowhere: The Idea Of Progress And Its Critics


Since the Enlightenment, the idea of progress has spanned right- and left-wing politics, secular and spiritual philosophy, and most every school of art or culture. The belief that humans are capable of making lasting improvements--intellectual, scientific, material, moral, and cultural--continues to be a commonplace of our age. However, events of the preceding century, including but not limited to two world wars, conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, the spread of communism across Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, violent nationalism in the Balkans, and genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, have called into question this faith in the continued advancement of humankind.In A Road to Nowhere, Matthew W. Slaboch argues that political theorists should entertain the possibility that long-term, continued progress may be more fiction than reality. He examines the work of German philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer and Oswald Spengler, Russian novelists Leo Tolstoy and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and American historians Henry Adams and Christopher Lasch--rare skeptics of the idea of progress who have much to engage political theory, a field dominated by historical optimists. Looking at the figures of Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, and Adams, Slaboch considers the ways in which they defined progress and their reasons for doubting that their cultures, or the world, were progressing. He compares Germany, Russia, and the United States to illustrate how these nineteenth-century critics of the idea of progress contributed to or helped forestall the emergence of forms of government that came to be associated with each country: fascism, communism, and democratic capitalism, respectively.Turning to Spengler, Solzhenitsyn, and Lasch, Slaboch explores the contemporary relevance of the critique of progress and the arguments for and against political engagement in the face of uncertain improvement, one-way inevitable decline, or unending cycles of advancement and decay. A Road to Nowhere concludes that these notable naysayers were not mere defeatists and presents their varied prescriptions for individual and social action.



  • Condition: New
    HPB condition ratings
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    • Fine/Like New (F): Book may have been read. Looks new and has no defects. May show remainder marks. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
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    • Very Good (VG): Shows signs of wear. May have minor defects: clipped or chipped dust jacket; owner’s inscription; remainder mark; minor foxing or bumping. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
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    • Fair (FR): May be very worn, soiled, torn, or barely holding together. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
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    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Sold by: HPB.com
  • Seller rating:
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Univ of Pennsylvania Pr
  • ISBN-13: 9780812249804
  • ISBN: 0812249801
  • Publication Year: 2017


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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): Book may have been read. Looks new and has no defects. May show remainder marks. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Near Fine (NF): Clean, with no defects, but may show slight wear at edges of book or dust jacket. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows signs of wear. May have minor defects: clipped or chipped dust jacket; owner’s inscription; remainder mark; minor foxing or bumping. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. May have any of the defects above to a greater degree, including highlighting, library markings, or loose bindings. Rare and collectible books may have cocked spine, cracked hinges, water stains; torn or repaired dust jacket. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): May be very worn, soiled, torn, or barely holding together. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): May have extensive damage from moisture or insects; detached boards; parts may be missing; marginally salable unless very unusual. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
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Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
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  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
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Conditions Guide
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