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<i> Ronald Reagan </i> The Movie

And Other Episodes in Political Demonology

Michael Rogin

Publication Year: 1988

The fear of the subversive has governed American politics, from the racial conflicts of the early republic to the Hollywood anti-Communism of Ronald Reagan. Political monsters—the Indian cannibal, the black rapist, the demon rum, the bomb-throwing anarchist, the many-tentacled Communist conspiracy, the agents of international terrorism—are familiar figures in the dream life that so often dominates American political consciousness. What are the meanings and sources of these demons? Why does the American political imagination conjure them up? Michael Rogin answers these questions by examining the American countersubversive tradition.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xx

The aim of this book is to name and characterize a countersubversive tradition at the center of American politics. Although some of the chapters were originally written to stand on their own and others were conceived with the larger project in mind, all examine moments or strands in the history of political demonology. ...

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1. Ronald Reagan, the Movie

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pp. 1-43

The year is 1940, Stalin and Hitler have signed their pact, and Europe is at war. Saboteurs are operating inside America as well, blowing up bridges and trains. The House Un-American Activities Committee, investigating sabotage and sedition, subpoenas Joe Garvey, the chairman of the Society of Loyal Naturalized Americans. ...

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2. Political Repression in the United States

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pp. 44-80

Most treatments of the countersubversive mentality, as we shall see in chapter 9, disconnect demonology both from major American social divisions and from institutionalized political repression. Most versions of American history, by a complementary set of choices, chart a progress toward freedom and inclusion. ...

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3. The King's Two Bodies: Lincoln, Wilson, Nixon, and Presidential Self-Sacrifice

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pp. 81-114

"The king has in him two Bodies," wrote the Elizabethan jurist Edmund Plowden, "viz, a Body natural, and a Body politic. His Body natural . . . is a Body mortal, subject to all infirmities that come by Nature or Accident. But his Body politic is a Body that cannot be seen or handled . . . and this Body is utterly void of Infancy, ...

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4. Nonpartisanship and the Group Interest

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pp. 115-133

"Name the political scientist who has made the most important contributions to the discipline since World War II," members of the American Political Science Association were asked in 1962. David Truman was among the six men most often mentioned.1 Truman's classic work of "group theory," The Governmental Process,2 ...

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5. Liberal Society and the Indian Question

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pp. 134-168

Underneath the "ambitious expansionism" of modern western societies, writes Henri Baudet in Paradise on Earth, "with their economic savoir faire, their social ideology, and their organizational talents," lies "a psychological disposition out of all political reality. It exists independently of objective facts, which seem to have become irrelevant. ...

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6. Nature as Politics and Nature as Romance in America

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pp. 169-189

Since the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay, organized in covenants as a joint stock company, imagined themselves a mystic brotherhood reborn in the body of Christ, American history has progressed under the sway of two conflicting vocabularies. One, the language of exterior, marketplace relations, takes the contract as its master symbol. ...

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7. "The Sword Became a Flashing Vision": D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation

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pp. 190-235

"He achieved what no other known man has ever achieved," wrote James Agee. "To watch his work is like being witness to the beginning of melody, or the first conscious use of the lever or the wheel; the emergence, coordination, and first eloquence of language; the birth of an art: and to realize that this is all the work of one man." ...

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8. Kiss Me Deadly: Communism, Motherhood, and Cold War Movies

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pp. 236-271

The history of demonology in American politics comprises three major moments. The first is racial, pitting whites against peoples of color and placing race at the center of the most important divisions in American political life. Class and ethnic conflict define the second demonological moment. ...

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9. American Political Demonology: A Retrospective

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pp. 272-300

The countersubversive imagination is not a new subject in American historiography. But efforts to comprehend the meaning of American political demonology suffer from a split that echoes the splitting mechanism in countersubversion itself, namely the bifurcation between the symbol and the real. ...


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pp. 324-351


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pp. 301-356


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pp. 357-366

E-ISBN-13: 9780520908994
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520064690

Page Count: 480
Publication Year: 1988