Download e-book for kindle: A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and by James E. Block

By James E. Block

ISBN-10: 0674008839

ISBN-13: 9780674008830

During this sweeping reinterpretation of yank political tradition, James Block bargains a brand new standpoint at the formation of the trendy American self and society. Block roots either self and society within the idea of supplier, instead of liberty, and dispenses with the nationwide fantasy of the "sacred reason behind liberty"--with the statement of Independence as its "American scripture." as an alternative, he recovers the early smooth perception of supplier because the precise synthesis rising from America's Protestant and liberal cultural foundations. Block lines supplier doctrine from its pre-Commonwealth English origins via its improvement into the yankee mainstream tradition at the eve of the 20 th century. the concept that of employer that prevailed within the colonies concurrently published participants from conventional constraints to take part actively and self-reliantly in social associations, whereas confining them inside a brand new set of commitments. person initiative used to be now firmly bounded by way of the trendy values and ends of private Protestant religiosity and collective liberal institutional authority. As Block indicates, this complicated relation of self to society lies on the root of the yank personality. A state of brokers is a brand new studying of what the "first new state" did and didn't in achieving. it's going to let us to maneuver past long-standing nationwide myths and snatch either the yankee success and its legacy for modernity.

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Extra resources for A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and Society

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Weber writes: “We are interested rather in . . the influence of those psychological sanctions which, originating in religious belief and the practice of religion . . derived from the peculiarities of the reli- 22 The American Narrative in Crisis gious ideas behind them . . ”96 The result of early modern Protestant conviction was an individualism combining “one’s own ability and initiative” with “the perseverance of the individual in the place and within the limits God had assigned to him [as] .

Opposition to authority” and “distrust of power,”74 require a supervening source of legitimation. ”75 The reconstruction of the discourse on modern individualism and the constitution of liberal society must begin by acknowledging the primordial role of authority in constituting all cultures, in shaping a society’s citizenry and framing its institutions. Tocqueville, it is well known, after initial incredulity at the seemingly unlimited freedom and independence of action Americans enjoyed, grew ever more aware of the pervasive order and ubiquitous routinization which characterized life in the new society.

In order to reappropriate authority in their role as agents in a society celebrating individual freedom, they turned largely without knowing from the open field back toward the 26 The American Narrative in Crisis community and a place within it. Moreover, though the direction changed, the conscious intention did not. Thus the project of preserving freedom became deeply interwoven with and difficult to separate from that of building new institutions for the nation (as distinct from the state). Liberalism, as we shall see, has always predicated freedom on this dynamic of reversal.

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A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and Society by James E. Block

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