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Purdy asks how modern liveshe sees America (the US) as the paragonproduce both liberty and violence, what the proportion of freedom to exploitation is in the economy, which political realms encourage people to feel control over their choices and which incite popular passions to flirt with chaos or dictatorship, and which inflections of a culture help its members live with dignity and which erode it. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
In this thought-provoking collection, leading scholars explore democracy in the United States from a sweeping variety of perspectives. A dozen contributors consider the nature and prospects of democracy as it relates to the American experience--free markets, religion, family life, the Cold War, higher education, and more. These probing essays bring American democracy into fresh focus, complete with its idealism, its moral greatness, its disappointments, and its contradictions. Based on DeVane lectures delivered at Yale University, these writings examine large themes and ask important questions: Why do democratic societies, and the United States in particular, tolerate profound economic inequality? Has the United States ever been truly democratic? How has democratic aspiration influenced the development of practices as diverse as education, religious worship, and family life? With deep insights and lively discussion, the authors expand our understanding of what democracy has meant in the past, how it functions now, and what its course may be in the future.
Jedediah Purdy calls For Common Things his "letter of love for the world's possibilities." Indeed, these pages--which have already garnered a flurry of attention among readers and in the media--constitute a passionate and persuasive testament to the value of political, social, and community reengagement. Drawing on a wide range of literary and cultural influences--from the writings of Montaigne and Thoreau to the recent popularity of empty entertainment and breathless chroniclers of the technological age--Purdy raises potent questions about our stewardship of civic values.Most important, Purdy offers us an engaging, honest, and bracing reminder of what is crucial to the healing and betterment of society, and impels us to consider all that we hold in common.From the Trade Paperback edition.
"This is, perhaps, the work of a love letter... Such a letter brings something delicate and intimate into the light of shared vision. This disclosure is hazardous and frightening, but it is necessary because the kind of love that moves between people cannot survive in solitude. It must be made common if it is to live at all. Love letters, then, require the courage to stake oneself on an expression of hope that may very well come to nothing. They also indicate a perception of importance, a sense that some possibilities, however unlikely, are so important that not acknowledging them would be an act of terrible neglect."
In his latest book, Jedediah Purdy takes up a question of deep and lasting importance: why is property ownership a value to society? His answer returns us to the foundations of American society and enables us to interpret the writings of the patron saint of liberal economics, Adam Smith, in a wholly new light. Unlike Milton Friedman and other free-market scholars, who consider property a key to efficient markets, Purdy draws upon Smith's theories to argue that the virtues of wealth are social rather than economic. In Purdy's view, ownership does much more than shield one from government interference. Property shapes social life in ways that bring us closer to, or take us farther from, the ideal of a community of free and equal members. This view of property is neither libertarian nor communitarian but treats the community as the precondition of individual freedom. This view informed U. S. law in the early days of the republic, Purdy writes, and it is one that we need to restore today. Touching upon some of the most charged issues in American politics and law, including slavery, inheritance, international development, and climate change,The Meaning of Propertyoffers a compelling new view of property and freedom and enriches our understanding of democratic society.
From the author ofFor Common Things: a provocative look at the meaning of American freedom. Freedom is at the heart of the American identity, shaping both personal lives and political values. The ideal of authoring one's own life has inspired the country's best and worst moments--courage and emancipation, but also fear, delusion, and pointless war. This duality is America's story, from slavery to the progressive reforms of the early twentieth century, from the New Deal to the social movements of the 1960s and today's battles over climate change. The arc has been toward expanding freedom as new generations press against inherited boundaries. But economic forces beyond our control undercut our ideas of self-mastery. Realizing our ideals of freedom today requires the political vision to reform the institutions we share. Jedidiah Purdy works from the stories of individuals: Frederick Douglass urging Americans to extend freedom to slaves; Ralph Waldo Emerson arguing for self-fulfillment as an essential part of liberty; reformers and presidents struggling to redefine citizenship in a fast-changing world. He asks crucial questions: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God's word, or one's own heart? Can a nation of individualists also be a community of citizens?A Tolerable Anarchyis a book of history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging us to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and to make real our own ideals of freedom.
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