By Colin Woodard

ISBN-10: 0698181719

ISBN-13: 9780698181717

The writer of American Nations examines the background of and ideas to the major American query: how most sensible to reconcile person liberty with the upkeep of a loose society

The fight among person rights and the nice of the neighborhood as a complete has been the root of approximately each significant confrontation in our heritage, from the debates on the Constitutional conference and within the run as much as the Civil struggle to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the hot purchasers, the civil rights circulate, and the Tea occasion. In American Character, Colin Woodard lines those key strands in American politics throughout the 4 centuries of the nation’s life, from the 1st colonies throughout the Gilded Age, nice melancholy and the current day, and he explores how assorted areas of the rustic have effectively or disastrously accommodated them. The self sufficient streak came across its so much pernicious shape within the antebellum South yet used to be balanced within the Gilded Age through communitarian reform efforts; the recent Deal was once an instance of a winning coalition among communitarian-minded jap elites and Southerners.

Woodard argues that retaining a liberal democracy, a society the place mass human freedom is feasible, calls for discovering a stability among preserving  individual liberty and nurturing a loose society. Going to both libertarian or collectivist extremes leads to tyranny. yet the place does the “sweet spot” lie within the usa, a federation of disparate nearby cultures that experience continually strongly disagreed on those concerns? Woodard leads readers on a riveting and revealing trip via 4 centuries of fight, experimentation, successes and screw ups to supply a solution. His traditionally trained and pragmatic feedback on find out how to do so stability and holiday the nation’s  political impasse can be of curiosity to somebody who cares concerning the present American predicament—political, ideological, and sociological.

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Ix. 20 INNOCENT NATION INNOCENT WORLD of human nature and conduct. Yet it is one which achieves a considerable degree of plausibility, once the basic assumptions are accepted. It has been plausible enough, at any rate, to beguile millions of people, many of whom are not under the direct control of the tyranny and are therefore free to consider critical challenges of its adequacy. So powerful has been this illusory restoration of human innocency that, for all we know, the present communist oligarchs, who pursue their ends with such cruelty, may still be believers.

The recalcitrant forces in the historical drama have a power and persistence beyond our reckoning. Our own nation, always a vivid symbol of the most characteristic attitudes of a bourgeois culture, is less potent to do what it wants in the hour of its greatest strength than it was in the days of its infancy. The infant is more secure in his world than the mature man is in his wider world. The pattern of the historical drama grows more quickly than the strength of even the most powerful man or nation.

Modern man's confidence in his power over historical destiny prompted the rejection of every older conception of an overruling providence in history. Modern man's confidence in his virtue caused an equally unequivocal rejection of the Christian idea of the ambiguity of human virtue. In the liberal world the evils in human nature and history were ascribed to social institutions or to ignorance or to some other manageable defect in human nature or environment. Again the communist doctrine is more explicit and therefore more dangerous.

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American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard


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