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

By James E. Block

During this sweeping reinterpretation of yank political tradition, James Block deals a brand new standpoint at the formation of the trendy American self and society. Block roots either self and society within the suggestion of corporation, instead of liberty, and dispenses with the nationwide delusion of the "sacred explanation for liberty"--with the statement of Independence as its "American scripture." in its place, he recovers the early smooth notion of business enterprise because the real synthesis rising from America's Protestant and liberal cultural foundations. Block lines enterprise doctrine from its pre-Commonwealth English origins via its improvement into the yankee mainstream tradition at the eve of the 20 th century. the concept that of corporation that prevailed within the colonies at the same time published contributors 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 by way of the fashionable values and ends of private Protestant religiosity and collective liberal institutional authority. As Block indicates, this advanced relation of self to society lies on the root of the yankee personality. A state of brokers is a brand new analyzing of what the "first new kingdom" did and didn't in achieving. it is going to allow us to maneuver past long-standing nationwide myths and seize either the yankee success and its legacy for modernity.

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As the historian Cushing Strout suggests, surmounting Hartzian hegemony must begin from Tocqueville’s insight regarding “the secular consequences of religious ideologies” in American history. ” Colonial English Protestantism operated institutionally through covenanted communities to impose new identities that would at once “individuate and . . ”93 Adam Seligman, tracing modern American identity to its European Reformation roots, explains how “modern individualism” and “institutionalization” in “the collective” were reconciled to become “the intensely communal nature of individual identities” in Protestant society.

The influence of those psychological sanctions which, originating in religious belief and the practice of religion . . derived from the peculiarities of the reli- 22 The American Narrative in Crisis gious ideas behind them . . ”96 The result of early modern Protestant conviction was an individualism combining “one’s own ability and initiative” with “the perseverance of the individual in the place and within the limits God had assigned to him [as] . . 99 Seeking the principles by which the individual and society were reshaped by these theological and institutional transformations, this book treats the formation of American civilization as the product of a shift in the Western conception of human nature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that achieved its fullest expression in England.

Establishing the two faces of modernist individualism enables us to recover the foundational importance of Anglo-American Protestantism. As the historian Cushing Strout suggests, surmounting Hartzian hegemony must begin from Tocqueville’s insight regarding “the secular consequences of religious ideologies” in American history. ” Colonial English Protestantism operated institutionally through covenanted communities to impose new identities that would at once “individuate and . . ”93 Adam Seligman, tracing modern American identity to its European Reformation roots, explains how “modern individualism” and “institutionalization” in “the collective” were reconciled to become “the intensely communal nature of individual identities” in Protestant society.

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