American Political Cultures by Richard J. Ellis

By Richard J. Ellis

This paintings demanding situations the thesis first formulated through de Tocqueville and later systematically built by way of Louis Hartz, that American political tradition is characterised via a consensus on liberal capitalist values. Ranging over 300 years of historical past and drawing upon the seminal paintings anthropologist Mary Douglas, Richard Ellis demonstrates that American historical past is healthier understood as a competition among 5 rival political cultures: egalitarian neighborhood, aggressive individualism, hierarchical collectivism, atomized fatalism, and self sustaining hermitude.

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It poses the puzzle but does not explain or resolve it. How then is one to resolve the paradox of crusading capitalists? Huntington, for instance, identifies the Puritan Revolution as "the original source... What stops such traditions from being dislodged or pried loose from the collective memory? 165 Placing ideas in a social context invites us to probe the process by which ideas are continually negotiated and renegotiated by real human beings. " "Where a man is expected to build his own career by transacting with all and sundry as widely as possible,...

Why should a nation unambiguously committed to possessive individualism bewail the spread of selfish materialism? 155 How is it, in short, that a nation of traders can possess (in the words of G. K. This is the answer offered in Michael Kammen ’s brilliant if elusive People of Paradox . "159 Cultural conflict, for Kammen, takes place within the American psyche. I have no wish to take issue with the notion that value systems contain paradoxical contradictions. Paradox and irony are basic to the human condition.

The primary objective of the Reform Association was not to get the urban poor into the game of competitive enterprise but to create a new social system premised on equality of condition. The potential radicalism of Lockean natural rights doctrines is perhaps nowhere more fully realized than in Thomas Skidmore ’s The Rights of Man to Property! 37 Property was an inalienable right, given by "the Creator of the Universe" to every person. 39 Such drastic measures were justified, Skidmore reasoned, because no one could be denied his birthright without his consent and none could have possibly consented to a propertyless condition or one of meager property holdings.

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