Urged on by a powerful ideological and political movement, George W. Bush committed the United States to a quest for empire. American values and principles were universal, he asserted, and should guide the transformation of the world. Claes Ryn sees this drive for virtuous empire as the triumph of forces that in the last several decades acquired decisive influence in both the American parties, the foreign policy establishment, and the media.
Public intellectuals like William Bennett, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol, Michael Novak, Richard Perle, and Norman Podhoretz argued that the United States was an exceptional nation and should bring "democracy," "freedom," and "capitalism" to countries not yet enjoying them. Ryn finds the ideology of American empire strongly reminiscent of the French Jacobinism of the eighteenth century. He describes the drive for armed world hegemony as part of a larger ideological whole that both expresses and aggravates a crisis of democracy and, more generally, of American and Western civilization.
America the Virtuous sees the new Jacobinism as symptomatic of America shedding an older sense of the need for restraints on power. Checks provided by the US Constitution have been greatly weakened with the erosion of traditional moral and other culture.
|Publisher:||Taylor & Francis|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Claes G. Ryn is professor of politics at the Catholic University of America where he was chairman of his department. He has taught also at the University of Virginia and Georgetown University. He is chairman of the National Humanities Institute and editor of the journal Humanitas. In 2000 he gave the Distinguished Foreign Scholar Lectures at Beijing University His many books include A Common Human Ground, Will, Imagination, and Reason (2nd., exp. ed. published by Transaction), and Democracy and the Ethical Life.
Table of Contents
AcknowledgementsPrefaceAuthor's NotePrologue: War without End1. The Crisis of Western Civilization and the Rise of Jacobinism2. The New Jacobinism3. Creative Traditionalism or Radicalism?4. Democracy: Plebiscitary or Constitutional?5. Contrasting Forms of Morality and Society6. Aristocratic and Anti-Aristocratic Democracy7. The Father of Democratism8. Love of One's Own and Love of the Common9. Moral Universality: A Philosophical Interlude10. Pluralistic Political Morality11. Democracy in Peril12. The New Jacobins and American Democracy13. Democracy for the World14. Jacobin Capitalism15. Equality16. A Center that Cannot Hold17. Responsible Nationhood18. Needed: A New Moral RealismIndex