About the book
The Politics of Selfishness directly addresses a number of the questions which dominate contemporary American politics. The book attempts to provide answers based upon a coherent perspective which is admittedly outside the paradigm of what passes for conventional political discourse in this culture. The book examines the reasons for the inability of the political system of the United States to address, in any meaningful way, the problems which underlie the questions asked, despite the evidence of widespread suffering, disillusionment and anxiety among the American populace. Nevins' book also predicts, based upon the existing evidence which is examined, that, if left uncorrected, things are likely to get even worse.
The author explores a theme which runs throughout American history, politics, economics and law. The central thesis of this important and unconventional work is that the United States has begun to experience a number of profound, interrelated problems that are caused, both directly and indirectly, by our dogmatic and often unconscious adherence, collectively as a political culture and individually as Americans, to the political philosophy of John Locke. That ideology, which is the bedrock upon which the American liberal democracy has been founded, asserts that human beings are by nature solitary, aggrandizing individuals. Hence, preoccupation with the self in all of its manifestations and attributes - as opposed to the whole, the public interest - has become the primary focus by which political, economic and societal decisions are made. Consequently, the preferred form of social and political relationships with others, including the state as the organized expression of political society, is solely contractual and is designed primarily to protect private property in all of its forms.
The Politics of Selfishness provides compelling historic and contemporary evidence that our institutions, at all levels, are failing because of our uncritical embrace of the anti-social individualism which is John Locke's legacy. As such, the book documents the malaise so evocatively described by Jonathan Franzen in his most recent work of fiction, Freedom: The Novel.