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The Culture Struggle

How to think about cultural imperialism, cultural relativism, racism and gender oppression; this book treats culture as a component of social power and political struggle in the United States and elsewhere.

Seven Stories Press
January 2006

“Michael Parenti has educated generations of Americans—including my own—on the merits of a radical world view and progressive politics. In The Culture Struggle, Parenti is at the top of his game. His arguments about the importance of culture and his debunking of dominant ideology is masterful and written with precise and crystal clear prose that few other writers can approach, let alone equal.”

Robert W. McChesney, co-author of
Tragedy and Farce



Using vivid examples and riveting arguments throughout, The Culture Struggle ranges from the everyday to the esoteric. Despite its brevity, this book offers a wealth of stimulating insights. Richly informed, penned with eloquence, irony, and economy of language, The Culture Struggle helps us understand the world we live in.

One of America’s most astute and engaging political analysts, Michael Parenti shows us that culture is a changing process and the product of a dynamic interplay between a wide range of social and political interests. It is not enough to study the prevailing political realm; we also must grasp developments throughout the entire civil society. In short, to understand a society we need to understand the problem of culture as well as that of power.

Drawing from cultures around the world, Parenti demonstrates that beliefs and practices are readily subjected to political manipulation, and that cultures are instruments of social power. Many parts of modern culture are being commodified, that is, packaged and sold to those who can pay. Folk culture is giving way to a corporate market culture.

Art, science, medicine, psychiatry, and even marriage have been used as instruments of cultural control across the centuries. Powerful interests also employ racism, sexism, and class supremacy to maintain their existing politico-economic rule. Culture is both something to be contained and itself an instrument of domination.

Seven Stories Press, 140 pp., paperback

Table of Contents

Part I     Reflections on Culture

1.    The Politics of Culture
2.    Culturalistic Explanations
3.    Mass Marketed Culture
4.    Psychiatry as a Control Weapon

Part II    Judging Different Cultures

5.    Ethnocentrism and Cultural Imperialism
6.    The Hazards of Cultural Relativism
7.    Custom Against Women
8.    The Global Rape Culture
9.    “The Most Fundamental Institution of Civilization”

Part III    Racist Myths

10.   From Tribalism to Universalism
11.    Slavery and Gentlemen Imperialists

Part IV    Hyper-Individualism, Reality, and Perception

12.   New Age Blessings and Disorders
13.   The Myth of Individuality
14.   Objectivity and the Dominant Paradigm


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