The Washington Post
Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalismby Paul Starr
Liberalism in America is under siege. Conservatives now treat it as an epithet and even some progressives spurn it. But according to Paul Starr, liberalism is a sturdy public philosophy, deeply rooted in our traditions, capable of making America and the world more free and secure.“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” remains as good and concise
Liberalism in America is under siege. Conservatives now treat it as an epithet and even some progressives spurn it. But according to Paul Starr, liberalism is a sturdy public philosophy, deeply rooted in our traditions, capable of making America and the world more free and secure.“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” remains as good and concise a definition of liberalism’s aims today as it was when Thomas Jefferson borrowed the language of John Locke for the Declaration of Independence. What distinguishes liberalism, however, is not just high aspirations but strikingly effective principles for the creation and control of power. From its origins as constitutional liberalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the liberal project has provided the basis of the most prosperous and powerful states in the world. Modern democratic liberalism has carried forward the constitutional liberal tradition by favoring a more inclusive and egalitarian conception of liberty and opportunity. It has responded to threats to freedom and the public good from excessive concentrations of private power, while maintaining a dynamic market economy. And it has shown how government can respond to economic crisis and injusticeyet keep arbitrary power in checkby providing stronger guarantees of civil liberties and equal rights. At a time when conservative policies are weakening America’s long-term fiscal, economic, and international strength as well as its liberties, liberalism is more urgent than ever. Freedom’s Power shows why liberalism worksand how it can work for America again.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Part political theory and part intellectual history, this book tracks the development of liberalism as the world's dominant political tradition and argues for its continued ascendancy as the best guarantor of individual rights and prosperity on the global stage. Starr, a Princeton sociology and public affairs professor and founding editor of the American Prospect, explains modern liberalism as an evolutionary process, rooted in classical laissez-faire liberalism, and gradually accreting a greater role for the state to provide a social safety net, defend equal rights for all and institute true democratic pluralism. Defending liberalism from its socialist as well as its conservative critics, Starr sees his ideology as a middle path, harnessing the creative power of the free market while tempering some of its capriciousness. A central thesis is that "[t]he peculiar internal tension of liberal constitutions is that they constrain power even as they authorize it—that is, they attempt to curb the despotic power and ambitions of individual rulers and officials and, by doing so, to permit stronger systemic capacities." The first section of the book discusses the causes and consequences of liberal revolutions in Britain, America and France, while later chapters cover recent events, including the 2006 congressional elections. Complex macroeconomic, demographic and philosophical trends are presented engagingly and understandably for casual readers and political buffs alike. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Written as "a rebuttal to contemporary conservatism and as a corrective to some currents of liberal thought and progressive politics," this intellectual history and political analysis attempts to show that modern liberalism is really a continuation of the classic liberal tradition, emphasizing constitutional government and individual rights. Starr (sociology & public affairs, Princeton Univ.; editor, The American Prospect; The Social Transformation of American Medicine) defines liberalism as "a design of power in support of freedom" and argues clearly and convincingly for liberalism as a middle ground between conservatism and socialism. In discussing the development of classical liberalism and modern democratic liberalism, Starr ranges far and wide over English, French, and American history. In looking at the present, he attacks Bush's unilateralism, insensitivity to the world's environmental problems, and lack of concern for economic equality. He believes that liberalism can regain a national majority by looking at domestic bread-and-butter issues in terms of the national interest rather than the objectives of specific interest groups and by recommitting to a multilateral approach to foreign policy. For academic and larger public libraries.
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Meet the Author
Paul Starr is Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University and its Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs. He is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Social Transformation of American Medicine and The Creation of the Media. Starr is the co-founder and editor of The American Prospect. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >