The Political Philosophy of John Dewey: Towards a Constructive Renewal

The Political Philosophy of John Dewey: Towards a Constructive Renewal

The Political Philosophy of John Dewey: Towards a Constructive Renewal

The Political Philosophy of John Dewey: Towards a Constructive Renewal

Synopsis

Terry Hoy seeks to establish the contemporary relevance of the political philosphy of John Dewey. As Professor Hoy illustrates, Dewey focused on the distortions in American political thought resulting from the Lockean-Utilitarian tradition of classical liberalism; the growing standardization and quantification of American life; the erosion of traditional face-to-face communal public life; the manipulation of public opinion by mass media propaganda; and the ascendancy of capitalist economic priorities.

Excerpt

This study seeks to defend the importance of Dewey's political theory in the context of the current discussion and debate on the direction of American liberalism. the effort to establish this relevance requires a consideration of what gave Dewey's political theory its importance in the early part of the century, the reasons for the decline of his influence, and what has been the impetus for renewal of interest in his contribution in the past several decades. Dewey's importance has most often been seen as an association with (1) the Progressive Era in American politics, (2) the attack on corrupt influence in government, (3) the demand for direct democracy, (4) the regulation of monopolies, and (5) the redirection of government to the alleviation of social and economic distress. Arthur Schlesinger notes the significance of the Social Gospel movement in the early nineteenth century that was given expression in Hull-House in Chicago (where Dewey was an early member of the Board of Trustees). Hull-House and its counterpart in other cities, Schlesinger comments, "gave the middle class its first extended contact with the working class--with the sweat shops, the child labor, the unsanitary working conditions, the long hours, the starvation wages, the denial of the right to organize." Other organizations, like the Women's Trade Union League and the Association for Labor Legalization, carried on other aspects of the fight for de-

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