Download A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and by James E. Block PDF

By James E. Block

During this sweeping reinterpretation of yank political tradition, James Block bargains a brand new point of view at the formation of the trendy American self and society. Block roots either self and society within the inspiration of corporation, instead of liberty, and dispenses with the nationwide fantasy of the "sacred reason for liberty"--with the assertion of Independence as its "American scripture." as an alternative, he recovers the early sleek notion of company because the real synthesis rising from America's Protestant and liberal cultural foundations. Block lines supplier doctrine from its pre-Commonwealth English origins via its improvement into the yankee mainstream tradition at the eve of the 20th century. the idea that of business enterprise that prevailed within the colonies at the same time published participants from conventional constraints to take part actively and self-reliantly in social associations, whereas confining them inside of a brand new set of commitments. person initiative was once now firmly bounded through the fashionable values and ends of non-public Protestant religiosity and collective liberal institutional authority. As Block indicates, this advanced relation of self to society lies on the root of the yank personality. A country of brokers is a brand new examining of what the "first new country" did and didn't in attaining. it's going to permit us to maneuver past long-standing nationwide myths and grab either the yank fulfillment and its legacy for modernity.

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Additional info for A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and Society

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The Declaration of Independence, though the later source of the national idyll of liberty, must be understood in its role at the time as central to the elite strategy of popular mobilization. In it, Jefferson effected a pragmatic alliance between the two insurgencies on the basis of mutual noninterference, offering common citizens a temporary respite from elite control. Despite overt popular discontent with elite rule since the 1740s and antipathy to the elite war, the Declaration succeeded because its universaliz- 32 The American Narrative in Crisis ing language boldly signaled the elites’ willingness to suspend their internal agenda for the duration of the war.

I The English Origins of the American Self and Society 2 The Early Puritan Insurgents and the Origins of Agency In its place grew that old feeling . . that there’s something bigger involved than is apparent on the surface. You follow these little discrepancies long enough and they sometimes open up into huge revelations. —Robert Pirsig Yet, after our regeneration, by truth . . we begin to be Co-workers with the grace of God. —William Perkins The culture of modern individualism emerged most prominently and pervasively in England in the century leading to the English Revolution.

Is, to maintain such a constant communion with him, that we may be able to fetch help, and comfort, and direction from him, so that we need not turn 42 The English Origins of the American Self and Society aside to the creatures, and be dependent upon them. And indeed one that is acquainted with him, may be satisfied with that alone. . There are two companions which a man needs never to be destitute of, god and himself. . ”7 Yet this new individualism could be regarded as liberation only by comparison to traditional religion.

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