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The book examines the origins and development of the modern liberal tradition and explores the relationship between republicanism and liberalism between 1750 and 1830. The authors consider the diverse settings of Scotland, the American colonies, the new United States, and France and examine the writings of six leading thinkers of this period: Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, Germaine de Staël, and Benjamin Constant. The book traces the process by which these thinkers transformed and advanced the republican project, both from within and by introducing new elements from without. Without compromising civic principles or abandoning republican language, they came to see that unrevised, the republican tradition could not grapple successfully with the political problems of their time. By investing new meanings, arguments, and justifications into existing republican ideas and political forms, these innovators fashioned a doctrine for a modern republic, the core of which was surprisingly liberal.
A history of religion’s role in the American liberal tradition through the eyes of seven transformative thinkers Today we associate liberal thought and politics with secularism. When we argue over whether the nation’s founders meant to keep religion out of politics, the godless side is said to be liberal. But the role of religion in American politics has always been far more nuanced and complex than today’s debates would suggest and closer to the heart of American intellectual life than is commonly understood. American democracy was intended by its creators to be more than just a political system, and in The Religion of Democracy, historian Amy Kittelstrom shows how religion and democracy have worked together as universal ideals in American culture—and as guides to moral action and the social practice of treating one another as equals who deserve to be free. The first people in the world to call themselves “liberals” were New England Christians in the early republic, for whom being liberal meant being receptive to a range of beliefs and values. The story begins in the mid-eighteenth century, when the first Boston liberals brought the Enlightenment into Reformation Christianity, tying equality and liberty to the human soul at the same moment these root concepts were being tied to democracy. The nineteenth century saw the development of a robust liberal intellectual culture in America, built on open-minded pursuit of truth and acceptance of human diversity. By the twentieth century, what had begun in Boston as a narrow, patrician democracy transformed into a religion of democracy in which the new liberals of modern America believed that where different viewpoints overlap, common truth is revealed. The core American principles of liberty and equality were never free from religion but full of religion. The Religion of Democracy re-creates the liberal conversation from the eighteenth century to the twentieth by tracing the lived connections among seven thinkers through whom they knew, what they read and wrote, where they went, and how they expressed their opinions—from John Adams to William James to Jane Addams; from Boston to Chicago to Berkeley. Sweeping and ambitious, The Religion of Democracy is a lively narrative of quintessentially American ideas as they were forged, debated, and remade across our history.
This book situates the origins of American political science in relation to the transatlantic history of liberalism. In a corrective to earlier accounts, it argues that, as political science took shape in the nineteenth century American academy, it did more than express a pre-existing American liberalism. The pioneers of American political science participated in transatlantic networks of intellectual and political elites that connected them directly to the vicissitudes of liberalism in Europe. The book shows how these figures adapted multiple contemporary European liberal arguments to speak to particular challenges of mass democratic politics and large-scale industry as they developed in America. Political science's pioneers in the American academy were thus active agents of the Americanization of liberalism. When political science first secured a niche in the American academy during the antebellum era, it advanced a democratized classical liberal political vision overlapping with the contemporary European liberalism of Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill. As political science expanded during the dramatic growth of university ideals and institutions in the Gilded Age, divergence within its liberalism came to the fore in the area of political economy. In the late-nineteenth century, this divergence was fleshed out into two alternative liberal political visions - progressive liberal and disenchanted classical liberal - with different analyses of democracy and the administrative state. During the early twentieth-century, both visions found expression among early presidents of the new American Political Science Association, and subsequently, within contests over the meaning of "liberalism" as this term acquired salience in American political discourse. In sum, this book showcases how the history of American political science offers a venue in which we see how a distinct current of mid-nineteenth-century European liberalism was divergently transformed into alternative twentieth-century American liberalisms.
The idea of the centralized State has played a powerful role in shaping French republicanism. But for two hundred years, many have tried to find other ways of being French and Republican. These essays challenge the traditional account, bringing together new insights from leading scholars.
This book offers a new, European-centered approach to Tocqueville’s thought. Although Tocqueville is often revered as a classic writer on the subject of American democracy, this book focuses on the multifaceted importance of his ideas within a European context. This collection of essays presents Tocqueville’s vision of a diverse and united Old Continent, exploring his ideas of liberty, virtue, religion, patriotism, greatness, civic participation and democracy. These thoughts are analyzed not only in the context of Tocqueville’s output, but also in the light of their potential to describe the dilemmas of contemporary Europe and to offer remedies for its problems.
This book explores a series of challenging new perspectives on the origins, development, and legacy of France's 'liberal moment' during the second half of the twentieth century. It surveys a significant shift in interest regarding socio-political philosophy and culture, with the 1970s emergence of a blossoming French curiosity about liberalism and liberal thought. While liberalism had played an important role in French political debate prior to this period, liberal voices were often disregarded. It was not until this newfound fascination with liberalism by French intellectuals—spanning from the second left to the new right—that a French liberal revival truly occurred. In Search of the Liberal Moment addresses this revival, its resultant resuscitation of nineteenth-century authors like Tocqueville and Constant, its relationship with the contemporary rise of neoliberalism in Britain and the US, and how its adherents used liberalism to rethink the past, present, and future of modern democracy.
Ancient Greece is famous as the civilization which "gave" the world democracy. Democracy has in modern times become the rallying cry of liberation from supposed totalitarianism and dictatorship. It is embedded in the assumptions of Western powers who proclaim their faith in the global spread of democratic governance and at the same time wielded by protesters in the developing world who challenge what they view as the West's cultural imperialism. Thus, a lively and well informed treatment of the nexus between politics in antiquity and political discourse in the modern era is both timely and apposite. As Kostas Vlassopoulos shows, much can be learned about the practice of politics from a comparative discussion of the classical and the contemporary. His starting point is that the value of looking back to a political system with different assumptions and elements can help us think, and even shape, what the future of modern politics might be. He discusses the contrasting political systems of Athens, Sparta and Rome; the political theories of thinkers like Plato, Aristotle and Cicero; how great events like the Peloponnesian War or the Roman civil wars shaped the course of political theory; and the discovery of freedom, participation and equality as political values in antiquity. Above all, the book shows how important and surprising an analysis of the ancient world can be in reassessing and revaluating modern political debates.

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