according to political scientist louis hartz, the united states

To do so, Americans would have to accept that they were beneficiaries of a liberal political philosophy with responsibilities to the frequently illiberal world they dominated, and stop their illusory attempt to stand outside their own history and traditions. The power of Locke’s ideas in America was best demonstrated by the fate of those who might have been inclined to challenge them.

  • Finally, Huyler’s attempt to prove his broader arguments sometimes leads him to questionable historical conclusions.
  • John W. Burgess founded the Columbia School of Political Science in 1880; Johns Hopkins also developed a significant graduate program before the end of the century; Woolsey, Burgess, and Willoughby produced Political Science , Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law , and The Nature of the State .
  • G. A. Pocock elaborated a new view of the American revolutionary era that stressed harmony with British opposition Whig writings and classical conceptions of virtue.
  • Sweden is also a constitutional democracy, more rooted in deference and unanimity than in the United States.
  • With our changing political demographics, with younger voters, it could happen at the national level as well, despite our convoluted 18th century system and the modern distortions that have been laid on top of it.

If nationalism was a pathology, the thinking went, the writing of national histories was one of its symptoms, just another form of mythmaking. In the wake of World War II, American historians wrote the history of the United States as a story of consensus, an unvarying “liberal tradition in America,” according to the political scientist Louis Hartz, that appeared to stretch forward in time into an unvarying liberal future. Schlesinger, writing in 1949, argued that liberals occupied “the vital center” of American politics.

The Link Between Foreign Languages And U S National Security

Congress masks government’s huge spending by debt financing, and it masks government’s huge scope by paying three types of federal proxies—state and local government workers, for-profit business contractors, and nonprofit organization grantees—to administer federal policies, programs, and regulations. Fukuyama is right about Congress being the main culprit behind the nation’s political decay. But he needed to puzzle over why Congress has record-low approval ratings yet sky-high incumbent reelection rates. The answer is that, for all the mass public’s anti-Washington sentiments, most American voters are getting precisely what they want from the federal government, namely, ever more benefits without ever higher taxes and without ever bigger bureaucracies. Congress added conflicting objectives to the agency’s traditional “timber exploitation” task. For example, Japanese citizens are more comfortable with authority and hierarchical structures, while Swedes tend to be less mistrustful of government and more open to social programs that will benefit the underserved than Americans. Sixty years ago, the Harvard political scientist Louis Hartz concluded that the nation’s founders created a constitutional system that, with its complicated system of checks and balances, was designed never to work too well or too fast and sometimes not at all.

according to political scientist louis hartz, the united states

With its complicated system of checks and balances, the federal government was not designed to move quickly. When the Great Society was launched in 1965, transfer payments to individuals were 30 percent of government outlays. By 1975 they had risen to 50 percent, and in 2017 they accounted for 72 percent of the federal budget. There have always been critics of the American system, to be sure, especially about a century ago when the Progressives and Transnationalists were numerous among intellectuals. Yet, they were fringe elements, even under the progressive Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and were not to have an impact on the way the country was run till after mid-century. Attachment to freedom (in Hartz’s words, “an irrational attachment to freedom”) was about all we had. Whatever one may think of what Hartz wrote, it is true that we had never had strong socialist or reactionary political forces, at least not in the class-based way they are understood in Europe and Latin America.


This distinction has been subjected to much criticism, on the grounds that it’s nothing more than a way of calling one kind of nationalism good and another bad. But the nationalism of the North and that of the South were in fact different, and much of U.S. history has been a battle between them. This course of events is so unusual, in the matter of nation building, that the historian David Armitage has suggested that the United States is something other than a nation-state.

And yet today there are many signs of this great nation losing ground at the global level—worrying signs that suggest that America could lose it all in the coming decades. And yet there are signs of this great nation losing ground at the global level. 19 In Hartz’s words, “Bentley went deeper than Beard, for the free and easy play of pressure groups was a real characteristic of the American liberal world, inspired by the moral settlement which underlay it and hence obscured class lines.” Liberal Tradition, p. 250. 18 Beard praised Bentley for his efforts “to put politics on a basis of realism where it belongs” and for making contra asset account “effective use of the idea of `group interests,’ as distinct from class interests in the Marxian sense.” Political Science Quarterly, 23 , , quoted in Hofstadter, Progressive Historians, p. 186n. Viewed against the backdrop of Schmitt’s thought, it is not so surprising to read that the top Nazi leader in the United States recently gushed that Trump’s candidacy presents a “wonderful opportunity” for white nationalists to show their “views are not so unpopular” as people think. Needless to say, for an aspirant to the highest office in a democracy to shut out the press whenever it becomes critical sets a dangerous precedent.

according to political scientist louis hartz, the united states

In a parochial political culture, like Mexico, citizens are mostly uninformed and unaware of their government and take little interest in the political process. In a subject political culture, such as those found in Germany and Italy, citizens are somewhat informed and aware of their government and occasionally participate in the political process.

Finally, Huyler deftly integrates the conclusions of dozens of scholars into his argument without reducing his book to a historiographic exercise. Huyler’s ability to keep his narrative relatively free of what he terms “high-brow name-calling” helps return civility to a debate that has often degenerated into hyperbole and vilification (p. 148). While the concept of modernization generally is not of much help in understanding American development, other more specific, functional concepts and theories may be drawn from the comparative study of political development and applied usefully to the American experience. There is, moreover, still the need to reintegrate American politics into comparative politics, which was where it was in the i88os, and from which it was dislodged by the parochialism of the Progressive movement. At the center of Schmitt’s political philosophy was what he called the “friend” versus “enemy” distinction. According to Schmitt, all human politics was fundamentally about the difference between the friends of a given political order and its enemies.

The Nation And The State

Could Americans transcend their limited experience to understand and to act effectively with people of other societies and cultures? If the American experience was unique, it was irrelevant to the rest of the world; if it was relevant, it could not be unique. The preoccupation with this set of issues implied that there was indeed something different about the United States. In how many other countries have scholars and intellectuals debated the historical experience of their society in terms of its uniqueness or relevance? The very fact that this issue was debated was, in some measure, evidence if not of American uniqueness at least of American hubris. Implicit in the argument for uniqueness was the assumption that no other society was as good as the United States; implicit in the argument for relevance was the assumption that every other society should be like the United States. Lost in the debate was the chastening possibility- which, I would suggest, was closer to actuality-that the United States could well be neither unique nor relevant.

This was, as it were, the period in which the preconditions for the scholarly takeoff of the science of politics were being laid. It had long been clear that nationalism was a contrivance, an artifice, a fiction.

They have generally, and correctly, assumed that political theory has been relatively underdeveloped in comparison with Accounting Periods and Methods Europe. The highly systematized ideologies rooted in social classes have been notably absent from the American scene.

Louis Hartz Essay Political Science Essay Examples Essayempire

Afflicted by deep polarization among elites and mass mistrust of government, America’s repatrimonialized republic has descended into what Fukuyama terms a “vetocracy,” a paralytic liberal democratic regime in which not even clear and present fiscal, foreign, or other dangers elicit sound and timely policy decisions. “Modern” states, as opposed to what the sociologist Max Weber called “patrimonial” ones. In patrimonial states, Fukuyama explains, the ruler “used his family or household, and friends— oftentimes the warriors who helped him conquer the territory in the first place—to staff his administration” and run it almost exclusively for their benefit. By contrast, modern states are staffed by officials chosen on the basis of merit and expertise, and run for the sake of a broad public interest. Modern states succeed patrimonial ones by delegitimizing the tendency to favor family and friends and instituting civil service examinations, merit qualifications, and rules against bribery, corruption, and conflicts of interest.

Hartz Is Dead Long Live Hartz

Meanwhile, with the coming of the Vietnam War, American historians stopped studying the nation-state in part out of a fear of complicity with atrocities of U.S. foreign policy and regimes of political oppression at home. “The professional bookkeeping practice of history writing and teaching flourished as the handmaiden of nation-making; the nation provided both support and an appreciative audience,” Bender observed in Rethinking American History in a Global Age in 2002.

Louis Hartz And The Liberal Metaphor: A Half

Through a series of letters addressed to Kissinger, Nixon was informed that Brezhnev and the KGB would welcome his election. Bernie also talks about class, which is unusual for a major-party candidate.

When Oklahoma Was The Heartland Of American Socialism

The simple fact of residence within the geographic scope of the United States has not always been enough to guarantee access to the republic’s political institutions. The argument that the United States is a fundamentally liberal polity was famously advanced in the 1950s by Louis Hartz. In The Liberal Tradition in America, Hartz wrote that America was uniquely fortunate for having been spared any real historical experience with feudalism or despotism. The according to political scientist louis hartz, the united states country had been “born free” and Lockean liberalism was all that its people knew. For those who adopt a more realistic view of American political development, however, the uncomfortable truth is that Trump does represent some longstanding and deep rooted strands of national political philosophy. Critics of the pugilistic billionaire have been slow to grasp this fact; even though Trump’s quintessential Americanness is entirely obvious to his supporters.

But the fate of today’s religious right may well have been foreshadowed by what Hartz called “the reactionary Enlightenment,” the effort by Southern thinkers before the Civil War to find a justification for slavery. Because of the lack of a conservative tradition, the opposite of liberalism was fantasy, and so Southern thinkers invented a feudal past of honor and chivalry that never existed.

Trump has also gone further than any modern candidate in trying to muzzle the press. When he has not liked a publication’s particular coverage, he has revoked its press pass, banning journalists working for publications across the Left-Right spectrum, including, The Huffington Post, Politico, The Washington Post, and National Review.

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