Up from Liberalism

Up from Liberalism

Up from Liberalism

Up from Liberalism

Excerpt

America, fashionable observers say, is a non-ideological nation; and it is understandable why this is a phenomenon from which one takes pleasure. No one is more tedious than the totally ideologized man, the man who forces every passing phenomenon into his ideological mold to end up, for example, concluding that every friend of Congressional investigating committees is an enemy of civil liberties, or that every enemy of Congressional investigating committees is a friend of civil liberties. American political conflicts are not generally fought on the battleground of ideas. The thoroughly non-Ideological Man is usually designated as steward of the American political community. This is partly a good thing, because everyone knows that ideological totalism can bring whole societies down, as it did Hitler's, and permanently terrorize others, as Communism has done. The danger comes when a distrust of doctrinaire social systems eases over into a dissolute disregard for principle. A disregard for enduring principle delivers a society, eviscerated, over to the ideologists.

America, most historians teach us, has sought to avoid the extremes, to be flexible without resembling Silly Putty; to be principled without being arch. I think our country is not clearly enough avoiding the former extreme. I think she is in danger of losing her identity--not on account of the orthodoxy that we are being told in some quarters threatens to suffocate us; but for failure to nourish any orthodoxy at all. I think the attenuation of the early principles of this country has made America vulnerable to the . . .

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