The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions

By Eugene J. McCarthy | Go to book overview
Save to active project

28
Intellectuals and Politics

A superficial reading of the political history of the United States supports the view that American politics is anti-intellectual and that American government is a product of the efforts of "practical" men.

Certainly the founding fathers were practical men. In writing and then defending the Declaration of Independence, they took practical political action -- knowing that the consequence of failure was almost certain execution as traitors.

American politics is idealistic at the same time, and the reported division between politics and idealism is more fancied than real.

The failure to associate politics with the philosophical and intellectual arena of ideas has sometimes arisen from the very absence of genuine ideological conflict between men of ideas and men of action in American political life. Certainly philosophers, historians, and men of ideas were accepted as associates and advisers of politicians in the earliest days of our history.

G. K. Chesterton, in his book What I Saw in America, published in 1922, said that

America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature.

The creed to which he referred was expressed in the Declaration in these words:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty,
and the Pursuit of Happiness. . . .

-148-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Hard Years: A Look at Contemporary America and American Institutions
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 229

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?