Chapter

The Missing State in Postwar American Political Thought

Desmond King and Marc Stears

in The Unsustainable American State

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780195392135
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199852543 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195392135.003.0005
The Missing State in Postwar American Political Thought

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This chapter examines in detail which fundamental features of postwar American political theory facilitated a disregard of the central agency of political life: the state. The chapter presents two initial viable causes for such actions. The first gives emphasis to capitalism and its role in American political explanation while the second highlights the anti-authoritarian tendencies of Cold War political thinking in the United States. However, the chapter argues that these two are insufficient to explain such exclusion. Obsession with the exclusive, oppressive, and tyrannical character of popular opinion and conventional wisdom in the United States is also taken into consideration when discussing why a generation of political theorists removed the state and situated “liberal tradition” in its place.

Keywords: American political theory; state; capitalism; Cold War; United States; political theorists

Chapter.  7675 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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