Liberalism and American Stories of Peoplehood

Marc Stears

in Liberalism as Ideology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199600670
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738203 | DOI:
Liberalism and American Stories of Peoplehood

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Opening by comparing Freeden’s approach to liberalism and that taken by Hartz in his celebrated Liberal Tradition in America, this chapter examines the status of liberal thinking in the US in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. The chapter opens by reminding us that Hartz often presented liberalism as enjoying a dangerously hegemonic place in American theorizing. It then demonstrates, however, that many American public figures were deeply anxious about the erosion of popular liberal sentiment in postwar America, even producing mass civic festivals, such as the American Freedom Train, to try to inculcate liberal norms across American society. The chapter concludes by demonstrating the different ways in which Hartz and Freeden might understand this phenomenon, before concluding that the internally flexible, adaptable, and open-ended nature of American liberalism has enabled it to prevail across time, in ways that neither Hartz nor Freeden might fully appreciate individually.

Keywords: Hartz; American liberalism; Freedom Train; culture; civic festivals; Second World War; Freeden

Chapter.  8451 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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