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The taxonomy of crisis literature, 'man' ‘civilisation’ and the ‘West’

A lot of books were indeed published in the United States with the word ‘man’ in their title (though a taxonomy of crisis literature would also show much anxiety about ‘civilisation’ and the ‘West’). Revealingly, most of these were written by European exiles and expatriates in the US (Fromm, Cassirer, Marcuse, Arendt, Voegelin): their formative intellectual experience was of the economic and political crisis of Europe, and of middle-class attachment to right-wing or downright fascist palliatives.

Thomist theologians were as much a part of it as New York’s Jewish intellectuals. and amplified by Ivy League campuses.  ‘Man,’ Greif writes, ‘became at mid-century the figure everyone insisted must be addressed, recognised, helped, rescued, made the centre, the measure, the “root”.’

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