Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy: Rethinking the Politics of American History

By James Livingston | Go to book overview

Notes

Introduction
1.
On the “Dunning School” of Reconstruction historiography and its cousins and consequences, see W. E. B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (1935; reprint, New York: Atheneum, 1969), chap. 17.
2.
See Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR (New York: Vintage, 1955), esp. pp. 303-16, where Hofstadter explains how the social-democratic reforms specific to the New Deal were predicated on acceptance of the large corporations-“by 1933 the American public had lived with the great corporation for so long that it was felt to be domesticated” (p. 312)-and thus represented a departure from the early “Progressive impulse” as well as from Populism. Hofstadter and others (e.g. Daniel Boorstin, Irwin Unger, William Appleman Williams) were deemed “consensus” historians because they emphasized the cultural or ideological coherence of American civilization, that is, the tacit but nonetheless effective affirmation of possessive individualism by most Americans, even in the throes of class struggle. I follow Gene Wise (see note 3, below) in preferring the term “counter-progressive” to characterize Hofstadter et al., because none of the so-called consensus historians, with the possible exception of Boorstin, ever posited the absence of conflict among Americans.
3.
On the meaning and significance of “counter-progressive” historiography, see Gene Wise, American Historical Explanations, 2nd rev. ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), chap. 4; chapters 1-2, 4, below; and James Livingston, “Social Theory and Historical Method in the Work of William Appleman Williams, ” forthcoming in Diplomatic History. On marginalism and literary naturalism, see James Livingston, Pragmatism and the Political Economy of Cultural Revolution, 1850-1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), chaps. 2-3, 6; on black nationalism, see chapter 4, below; and on the “new unionism” sponsored by the American Federation of Labor, which treated large corporations as devices for regulating markets rather than evidence of the republic's demise, which guided the labor movement and the larger culture beyond a preoccupation with goods production, as against consumption, and which contributed to the radical redefinition of politics in the Progressive Era and after, see Richard Schneirov, Labor and Urban Politics: Class Conflict and the Origins of Modern Liberalism in

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