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Download E-books American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good PDF

By Colin Woodard

The writer of American Nations examines the background of and strategies to the main American query: how top to reconcile person liberty with the upkeep of a loose society

The fight among person rights and the great of the group as a complete has been the root of approximately each significant confrontation in our background, from the debates on the Constitutional conference and within the run as much as the Civil conflict to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the recent purchasers, the civil rights stream, and the Tea get together. In American Character, Colin Woodard lines those key strands in American politics throughout the 4 centuries of the nation’s lifestyles, 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 reliant streak came across its such a lot pernicious shape within the antebellum South yet used to be balanced within the Gilded Age via communitarian reform efforts; the recent Deal was once an instance of a winning coalition among communitarian-minded japanese elites and Southerners.

Woodard argues that preserving a liberal democracy, a society the place mass human freedom is feasible, calls for discovering a stability among conserving  individual liberty and nurturing a loose society. Going to both libertarian or collectivist extremes ends up in tyranny. yet the place does the “sweet spot” lie within the usa, a federation of disparate local cultures that experience regularly 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 proficient and pragmatic feedback on the way to do so stability and holiday the nation’s  political impasse could be of curiosity to an individual who cares in regards to the present American predicament—political, ideological, and sociological.

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However the American attempt to accomplish consensus at the applicable stability among person and collective freedom is hampered through the easy incontrovertible fact that the US isn't a unitary society with a unmarried set of widely accredited cultural norms, like Japan, Sweden, or Hungary. It’s a contentious federation comprising 11 competing nearby cultures, so much of them centuries outdated, each one with a distinct tackle the stability among person liberty and the typical strong. This makes realizing the debates in our country—past in addition to present—unusually tricky, specially as few are conscious of the real contours of our fractious nearby cultures and the stipulations during which the dominant ethos of every was once cast. We’re conversant in taking into account American regionalism alongside fairly simple Mason-Dixon strains: North opposed to South, Yankee blue opposed to Dixie grey or, nowadays, crimson. the truth is extra advanced than that, and never simply because this paradigm excludes the western half the rustic. within the East by myself there are vast, visible, and long-standing cultural fissures inside of states like Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, manhattan, and Ohio. Nor are cultural fault strains mirrored within the barriers of extra westerly states. Northern and downstate Illinois could besides be assorted planets. The coastal areas of Oregon and Washington have extra in universal with one another and with the coasts of British Columbia and northern California than they do with the interiors in their personal states. Austin could be the country capital, yet Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are the hubs of the 3 Texases, whereas voters of the 2 Missouris can’t even agree on easy methods to pronounce their state’s identify. the traditional, state-based areas which are the root for far of our political and social discussion—North, South, Midwest, Southwest, West—are insufficient, unhelpful, and ahistorical. the true, traditionally established local map of our continent respects neither country nor overseas barriers, however it has profoundly motivated our heritage because the days of Jamestown and Plymouth, and maintains to dictate the phrases of political debate this present day. I spent years exploring the founding, enlargement, and effect of those local entities—stateless international locations, really—while writing a prior ebook, American countries: A heritage of the 11 Rival nearby Cultures of North the United States. It proven that our state hasn't ever been united, both in function, ideas, or political habit. We’ve by no means been a geographical region within the eu experience, yet particularly a federation of countries, extra reminiscent of the ecu Union than the Republic of France, and this confounds collective efforts to discover universal flooring and campaigns to strength one part nation’s values at the others. when you get to grips with the genuine map (see pages 60–61), you’ll see its shadow far and wide: in linguists’ dialect maps, cultural anthropologists’ maps of the unfold of fabric tradition, cultural geographers’ maps of non secular areas, and the well-known blue county/red county maps of approximately each hotly contested presidential election of the earlier centuries.

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