Only in America? The Politics of the United States in Comparative Perspective

By Graham K. Wilson | Go to book overview

Preface

THE UNITED STATES arouses strong feelings. It is a country whose citizens are among the most patriotic in the world, convinced that their nation's political institutions and society are the most admirable. Yet the United States has also been the object of a torrent of criticism from other countries. The left in Europe long disdained it as the most capitalist of advanced industrial democracies, the nation in which business was least constrained by the state or unions; the American state was too weak to limit the power of business (even if it had wished to do so), and unions lacked the membership. European conservatives (until the 1970s) too were concerned with goals and values not well served by the market to approve of American society, and in consequence they tended to view the United States with disdain almost equal to the left's. Conservatives feared the consequences of mass culture (epitomized for them by Hollywood) unconstrained by elitism of the sort that brought Britain state-subsidized theater and the BBC and classical music. For the left, the masses in the United States were powerless in the face of the dominance of capitalism; for the conservatives, the masses were too powerful, producing a coarse, anti-intellectual, and culturally impoverished society. Both left and right agreed that the United States provided a dreadful warning, not a model, for the rest of the world.

-v-

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Only in America? The Politics of the United States in Comparative Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface v
  • I - Difference 1
  • 2 - Cultural Interpretations of American Politics 17
  • 3 - The Content of American Politics 41
  • 4 - The Size of Government 60
  • 5 - E Pluribus . . .? 86
  • Conclusion 101
  • 6 - Institutions 103
  • Conclusion 125
  • 7 - Conclusion 126
  • Appendix 133
  • Notes 147
  • References 157
  • Index 163
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