Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions

By Henry Etzkowitz; Peter Schwab | Go to book overview

a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens . . . "

There were--and are--two special requirements for equity in a "representative republic." First, that all interests must be represented; and second, that all issues must be viewed as negotiable.

The mechanisms of compromise still exist. The question today is whether there is a will to use them. Here, too, there is a prior condition for their use--the need for some transcendent tie to bind individuals sufficiently for them to make the occasional necessary sacrifices of self-interest.

Historically, what has united a people has been a ruler, a doctrine, or a destiny-- sometimes, in the great periods of a people, a fusion of the three. In the U.S., what gave purpose to the republic at its founding was a sense of destiny--the idea, expressed by Jefferson, that on this virgin continent God's design would be unfolded. On a virgin continent, men could be free, prodigally free, to pursue their individual ends and celebrate their achievements. The doctrine was shaped by a Protestantism that emphasized sobriety and work, which resisted the temptations of the flesh. By and large, the belief in the "great man" was more muted in the U.S. than in other societies.

Over the years, this quiet sense of destiny and harsh creed of personal conduct were often replaced by a virulent "Americanism," a manifest destiny that took us overseas, and a materialist hedonism that provided the incentives to work. Today that manifest destiny is shattered, the Americanism has worn thin, and only the hedonism remains. It is a poor recipe for national unity and purpose.


Recognizing the limits of power

Yet in this time of trial and defeat, it is possible to see the outlines of a new purpose: one based on a self-conscious maturity that dispenses with ideologies, charismatic leaders, and manifest destinies, and that seeks to redefine the self and the liberal society on the only basis on which they can survive. The redefinition would be based on a recognition of the limits of our power, individual and social, to deal with unlimited appetites and wants.

Any such purpose would be the basis of a new social compact--but of a compact that does not ignore the past. It was the hubris of classical liberalism, and of socialist utopianism as well, that in each new generation men could start afresh and discard the past. It is true that, within limits, men can remake themselves and society. But the knowledge of power must coexist with the knowledge of its limits. This is, after all, the oldest and most enduring truth about the human condition--if it is to be human.


Liberal

Mark V. Nadel. The hidden dimension of public policy: Private governments and the policy-making process.

Public policy, like obscenity, is usually defined in practice by Justice Potter Stewart's maxim: "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it." On a superficial level, most definitions are in basic agreement and differences are primarily semantic. Overcoming the diversity of more specific definitions, the new Policy Studies Organization defines policy as "actual and potential government programs and actions designed to cope with various social problems."1 More specifically, Robert Salisbury's definition states: "Public policy consists in authoritative or sanctioned decisions by governmental actors. It refers to the 'substance' of what government does and is to be distinguished from the processes by which decisions are made. Policy here means the outcomes or outputs of governmental processes."2

Common to these and most other definitions of public policy is the broad notion that public policy is what government does.

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Is America Necessary? Conservative, Liberal, & Socialist Perspectives of United States Political Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One 15
  • 1 - Where Do I Stand? 17
  • Conservative 21
  • Conclusion 28
  • Socialist 44
  • Notes 46
  • Part Two 57
  • 2 - The Presidency 61
  • Conservative 67
  • Socialist 79
  • Notes 85
  • 3 - The Pentagon 101
  • Conservative 107
  • Socialist 117
  • 4 - The Secret Police 133
  • Conservative 139
  • Socialist 152
  • Notes 160
  • Part Three 167
  • 5 - Elite Clubs and Associations 169
  • Conservative 173
  • Notes 184
  • Notes 192
  • 6 - Multinational Corporations 209
  • Conservative 213
  • Socialist 221
  • Notes 244
  • 7 - Organized Crime 257
  • Conservative 259
  • Socialist 264
  • Part Four 283
  • 8 - Congress 285
  • Conservative 289
  • Socialist 296
  • Notes 303
  • 9 - The Courts 315
  • Conservative 319
  • Socialist 330
  • Notes 337
  • 10 - Regulatory Agencies 347
  • Conservative 349
  • Socialist 361
  • Notes 369
  • Political Parties 385
  • Conservative 387
  • Liberal 396
  • Conclusion 410
  • 12 - Academia 413
  • Conservative 416
  • References 427
  • Notes 434
  • Part Five 449
  • 13 - The Media 451
  • Conservative 453
  • Liberal 467
  • Notes 474
  • 14 - Banks 483
  • Conservative The Great Banking Retreat. 485
  • Socialist 489
  • Notes 497
  • 15 - Unions 511
  • Conservative 513
  • Notes 519
  • A Critical Issue 537
  • 16 - The Economic Crisis 539
  • Conservative 542
  • Socialist 544
  • Notes 550
  • Part Seven 557
  • 17 - Political Programs 567
  • Louis Banks. the Mission Of Our Business Society. 568
  • Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Toward an Initiatory Democracy. 576
  • Stanley Aronowitz. On Organization: A Good Party Is Hard to Find. 581
  • Mass Parties and Reformism 587
  • Notes 596
  • Fred R. Harris. Up With Those Who'Re Down. 602
  • Part Eight 613
  • Appendix 621
  • Note 644
  • Index 649
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