American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time by John McGowan

By John McGowan

Americans reside in a liberal democracy. but, even if democracy is generally touted at the present time, liberalism is scorned via either the appropriate and the left. the USA stands poised among its liberal democratic culture and the intolerant choices of liberalism's critics. In an interesting and informative dialogue, McGowan bargains a ringing endorsement of yankee liberalism's simple rules, values, and commitments. He explains that the liberalism of the founders dispensed energy greatly on the way to restrict the ability anybody entity might workout over others. Their goal was once to supply for all a good freedom that mixed the fitting to self-determination having the ability to in attaining one's self-chosen ambitions. In tracing this heritage, McGowan deals a transparent imaginative and prescient of liberalism's foundational values as America's top warrantly at the present time of liberty and the peace during which to workout it.

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At stake is whether the nation—understood as a political entity created by the people to promote the general welfare of all—can inspire a devotion that binds the people to its laws and to one another. 37 The rule of law does not need to be grounded in ethnicity or culture or some mythos of the nation. David Hollinger highlights the contrast between what he calls (borrowing from Michael Ignatieff ) “civic nationalism” and an “ethnic nationalism [that] claims . . ’” Civic nationalism asserts, instead, “‘that the nation should be composed of all those—regardless of race, color, creed, gender, language, or ethnicity—who subscribe to the nation’s political creed.

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.

The anxiety about social unity that is indicated in their positing of these quasi-mystical entities also expresses itself in their conviction that it will be “chaos come again” if those entities are revised or dethroned. Here, then, we find another set of pressures (apart from those that stem from the demos or from morality) to which the rule of law is commonly subjected. My presentation of this issue has made it clear where my sympathies lie. Even while I, in this book, invoke the American founding, I do not believe that origins are determinative.

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