On Liberalism

In his influential work, THE LIBERAL TRADITION IN AMERICA :
An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution
, Louis Hartz defines liberalism in the following words,

One can use the term ‘Liberal Reform’ to describe the Western movement which emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century to adapt classical liberalism to the purposes of small propertied interests and the laboring class and at the same time which rejected socialism. Nor is this movement without its ties to the earlier era….But the American movement, now as during that age itself, was in a unique position. For swallowing up both peasantry and proletariat into the ‘petit-bourgeois’ scheme, America created two unusual effects. It prevented socialism from challenging its Liberal Reform in any effective way, and at the same time it enslaved its Liberal Reform to the Alger dream of democratic capitalism.”

– (Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America , 228)


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