Concisely written and compelling, this book offers a provocative look at European-American relations. It focuses on the tradition of common political ideas, the original roots of common European and American thought, the decision by the two continents not to develop in isolation from one another, and the traditional ambivalence of the European caught indecisively between reliance upon and distance from the United States. From classical antiquity to contemporary society, Mathiopoulos unfolds the paradoxical relationship between the U.S. and Europethe simultaneous occurrence of reciprocal attraction and mutual misunderstanding. She describes how America was born of European intellectual stock; enlightenment, reason, (religious) freedom, equality, democracy, the rights of man and the desire to achieve these things in the New World. She also tells us that the idealism of progress of the European enlightenment gave rise to the American Dream which constitutes the consciousness of the American people and is woven into their domestic and foreign policy to this day. This stimulating book will interest anyone involved in the field of comparative political thought as well as those interested in the evolutionary and revolutionary process of the idea of progress in Europe and the United States.
The idea of progress forms the core History and Progress. Mathiopoulos shows that faith in progress and the desire for a better world have been the major stimuli for historical change in the modern world. She describes how Europe gave birth to this idea and throughout history became largely disenchanted with it. In contrast, the United States inherited this concept and has utilized it for over 200 years to maintain its sense of identity and self-awareness. History and Progress explains not only how the idea of progress inspired the founding of America, but how the concept provides momentum for the historical development of the nation to the present. In short, the 'American Dream' preserved the progressive optimism projected by the Enlightenment in the United States, even when it had since disappeared from European historical thought.
About the Author
MARGARITA MATHIOPOULOS is currently the Assistant Director of the International Aspen Institute in Berlin and Assistant Professor at the History and Political Science Department of the Free University of Berlin. She is the author of the book AmerikaDas experiment des Fortschritts: Ein Vergleich des politischen Denkens in den USA und Europa.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Gordon A Craig
Origins and Metamorphoses of the Idea of Progress in the European History of Ideas
The Historical Interdependence of the European and American Idea of Progress
The Political and Philosophical Foundations of The American Idea of Progress
Domestic Political Manifestations of the American Idea of Progress
Foreign Policy and the American Idea of Progress