By Wilfred M McClay

No kingdom in sleek heritage has had a extra strong feel of its personal forte than the USA. but few americans comprehend the immensely various resources of that feel and the attention-grabbing debates that experience continuously swirled round our makes an attempt to outline the US with larger precision. during this advent to the examine of yankee background, Wilfred M. McClay invitations us to adventure the perennial freshness and power of this nice topic as he explores many of the enduring commitments and protracted tensions that experience made the US what it truly is. writer: Wifred M. McClayPages: ninety six, PaperbackPublisher: Christendom PressISBN: 1-882926-45-5

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The “freedom” of modern liberalism and libertarianism, which presumes the moral autonomy of the self-validating individual, could not have been further from the Founders’ thinking. When Patrick Henry declared, “Give me liberty or give me death,” he was not holding out for the expressive liberties of Robert Mapplethorpe. It may be useful then, though admittedly idiosyncratic— and it is always dangerous to be idiosyncratic with language— to distinguish a “liberty” that enables the individual to act freely within a larger context of moral accountability from a “freedom” that is merely the absence of coercion.

We cannot avoid using it, if for no other reason than that so much of the world associates it so heavily with the United States. But few words are used with more maddening imprecision. By virtue of its being paired so often with “socialism” or “communism,” one could easily be led to think that “capitalism” denotes a coherent, systematic theory of economic organization, developed first as a comprehensive abstract philosophy before being tested as a practice. ” When we compare capitalism with socialism, we too often are comparing apples and oranges.

Of course they do. There is always a horrific price to be paid in consolidating a nation, and one is obliged to tell the whole story if one is to count the cost fully. The brutal displacement of Indian tribes, the horrors of chattel slavery and post-emancipatory peonage, the grim conditions of industrial labor, the ongoing tragedy of racial and religious hatred, the hidden injuries of class—all these stories and others like them need to be told and heard, again and again. They should not, however, be told in a way that sentimentalizes them, by displacing the mythic dimension of the American story onto them, and by ignoring the pervasive existence of precisely such horrors and worse in all human societies throughout recorded time.

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