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The Reagan EraA History of the 1980s$
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Doug Rossinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169882

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169882.001.0001

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The High Eighties

The High Eighties

(p.119) Seven The High Eighties
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the culture of the 1980s. Reaganism’s celebration of money, power, and fame fueled the quest for exhilaration and satisfaction. Wall Street buccaneers, young conservative activists, art-scene denizens, club-hoppers, rich kids, and rising stars of academe all lived large at the high tide of Reaganism, alternately affecting ennui and pursuing vivid sensation. The cultural temperature ran hot and cool at the same time. Adherents of postmodernism, postpunk, and post-postmaterialism—all trends of the era—loved shiny surfaces and slummed amid gritty realities. As the big party proceeded, the ascendancy of hedonism, openly embraced by the new apostles of unbridled capitalism, posed a moral quandary for the conservative movement.

Keywords:   hedonism, conservatives, conservative movement, capitalism, postmodernism, postpunk, post-postmaterialism, American culture

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