SEYMOUR MARTIN LIPSET 1922-2006
Published on: January 8, 2007
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  • Ben Allen

    As a former student during the mid-to-late 1990s, I also strongly agree that Public Policy 800 at George Mason Universsity was one of the most beneficial courses that I have ever taken. Much of what I learned in that course about the role of ideology and political culture in the public policy process has been very useful in my current career in the early childhood education policy community.

    Subsequent to Public Policy 800, I was fortunate to have taken a Social Policy Track course with Marty Lipset and Francis Fukuyama. In that course, we surveyed a range of public policy topics, including education and welfare reform. Each week we would be assigned readings for a different policy topic. In one of those courses, we learned about the resurgent role that the biological sciences were playing in the development of US social policies, particularly in the area of preschool education. In my courses with Marty, policy topics were never stale and always seemed to be on the cutting-edge of policy developments.

  • Dr. Fukuyama:

    “All human social behavior is highly multivariate; particle physics, by contrast, was a much simpler field because the independent and dependent variables could be specified much more exactly.” Can I sign up for PUBP 800 online? If you or the estate of Seymour Lipset needs someone to read for “Books on Tape” I am at the ready.

    The minute I would hear a statement like the aforementioned quote was the minute me and my buddies would have been teeing off on number one at Valleywood Country Club. The metaphysical nonsense that comes out of the ivory towers, even by those who masquerade as “conservatives”, only reinforces my belief that Newton Minnow’s “vast wasteland” could have been recycled and applied to the Academy.

    I see no mention of military service in Mr. Lipset’s biography on Wilipedia. He would have been of prime age for the battle that his idol FDR led us into. I voted for Ronald Reagan twice and consider him a reasonably able president. Eisenhower is clearly the cream of the crop as far as 20th century presidents are concerned. He understood the limitations of military power (Hungary) and criticized allies (Britain, France and Israel) during his reelection campaign in 1956. I wonder what the neoconservatives think of that. When it comes down to a debate about small or large “n’s” I side with the large r variety. The Crassus of Crawford has cast his lot with a bunch of Neoconservative Nuts.

    I would have gotten a “C” in PUBP 800 because I was a very smart student. I was smart enough to know that by pretending to flatter someone so smart as Mr. Lipset and by stringing some incomprehensible sentences together in a blue book that parroted and affirmed his beliefs I could feel confident as I handed in my dismal output after the final exam and smiled and nodded knowingly that I had held up my end of the academic social contract and life goes on.

    Dave Pilliod
    Swanton, Ohio

  • peter haley

    I took a course from Prof Lipset (co-taught by Nathan Glazer) at Berkeley in the Spring of 1964. He had formulated all his ideas by that time and had just published The First New Nation. Not to be mean, and remembering that I got an A in the course, but frankly he was a second-rate teacher. (Glazer was even worse.). His only good book was Agrarian Socialism. I don’t think he did much beyond doing some survey research with Tocqueville as his guide. The man was an entirely derivative thinker. Again, while having no hard feelings toward Marty, he managed to become pretty conservative without ever revising his view—-originally appearing in the intro to the paperback edition of Political Man—– that America was a country where leftist values predominated. This language disappeared in later reprints of the book, and in my view he never did articulate a persuasive account of American society. Nonetheless, I am very sorry that he was so sick toward the end of his life and I am glad others found him more inspiring than I did.

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