By John McGowan

ISBN-10: 0807831719

ISBN-13: 9780807831717

ISBN-10: 0807885088

ISBN-13: 9780807885086

American citizens dwell in a liberal democracy. but, even though democracy is extensively touted this present day, liberalism is scorned by way of either the fitting and the left. the USA stands poised among its liberal democratic culture and the intolerant possible choices of liberalism's critics. In an enticing and informative dialogue, McGowan deals a ringing endorsement of yank liberalism's simple ideas, values, and commitments. He explains that the liberalism of the founders dispensed energy generally to be able to restrict the facility anybody entity might workout over others. Their objective used to be to supply for all a good freedom that mixed the appropriate to self-determination being able to in achieving one's self-chosen pursuits. In tracing this historical past, McGowan deals a transparent imaginative and prescient of liberalism's foundational values as America's most sensible warrantly at the present time of liberty and the peace during which to workout it.

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Additional resources for American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series)

Sample text

The nation and the people are always a work in progress, attentive to, but not slavishly bound by, the origin. That, at least, is the ideal. 34 If everyone followed his own conscience, believed in his own god, and pursued his own interest (as the 36 H liberalism: principles and values new economics of capitalism encouraged him to do), what would prevent the chaos of endless doctrinal and political disputes set against the backdrop of unmitigated economic competition? Various candidates for a centripetal force to poise against all the centrifugal forces of modernity are advanced.

There is—and can be—nothing simple about liberalism. It has neither a simple view of our needs nor a simple view of how they can be best met. And it can never rely on simple—and direct—modes of enforcement because the dilution of power and its abuses is always one of its central aims. That’s why liberalism is and should be frustrating. It checks our desires to act forcefully; it frustrates any individual or institution that strives to take matters into its own hands. What to critics looks like liberalism’s paralysis, its wishy-washiness, is actually liberalism’s abiding dedication to the principle that one person, one agency, one institution should never be allowed to do the job.

So the legal system had to provide a place where conflicts could be aired and the rule of law H 23 adjudicated. Crucially, it had to provide a place where the law itself could be contested. The people must be able to question the law, to challenge it. A court case stages the fact that the people are not above the law—but neither is the law above the people. Finally, trial by case law enables the law to be responsive to new circumstances and unexpected social interactions. Only a flexible, evolving law could hope to prove resilient enough to provide a framework for a modern, ever-changing society.

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American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time (H. Eugene and Lillian Youngs Lehman Series) by John McGowan


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