Posts Tagged ‘Meaning of America’

Jonathan Rauch on John Locke’s America

July 2, 2011

Jonathan Rauch

It was [John] Locke, followed by Adam Smith and others, who first built the theory of liberal social mechanisms – public processes, like voting or trading or performing experiments, in which no one gets special personal authority (no kings, no dictators, no high priests or oracles) and no one in particular gets to control the outcome.  In the liberal scheme of things, no matter who you are, your vote is just a vote, your dollar is just a dollar, and your experiment had better work when anyone else tries it. Moreover, there is no last election, last trade, or last hypothesis.   America is John Locke’s country. …

Outside, perhaps, of the inner circle of my family, there is no man or woman, no president or priest, whom I would fight and die for.  But I would willingly give my life for the U.S. Constitution, which is a set of rules.

Click on JonathanRauch for his web site.

Virginia Postrel on the American paradox

July 2, 2011

Virginia Prostel

The paradox of America is that we have built a history and tradition, a national culture, on the defiance of history and tradition.  From William Penn, who would not take off his hat, to Rosa Parks, who would not give up her seat, we teach our children the stories of stiff-necked heroes.  

Rhett Butler, not Ashley Wilkes, is the hero of  Gone With the Wind.   Nobody thinks Huck Finn should return Jim to slavery or stick around and be civilized.  We’re not a by-the-book country.

Click on Dynamist for Virginia Postrel’s web site.