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By Richard M. Rorty

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Publish 12 months note: First released 1998. content material from The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures within the historical past of yank CiviUzation in 1997.

Must the sins of America's prior poison its wish for the longer term?

Lately the yank Left, taking flight into the ivied halls of academe to rue the nation's disgrace, has replied certain in either note and deed. In Achieving Our Country, considered one of America's best philosophers demanding situations this misplaced iteration of the Left to appreciate the function it can play within the nice culture of democratic highbrow exertions that begun with writers like Walt Whitman and John Dewey.

How have nationwide delight and American patriotism come to appear an endorsement of atrocities--from slavery to the slaughter of local americans, from the rape of historic forests to the Vietnam conflict? Achieving Our Country strains the resources of this debilitating mentality of disgrace within the Left, in addition to the damage it does to its proponents and to the rustic. on the middle of this heritage is the clash among the outdated Left and the hot that arose throughout the Vietnam battle period. Richard Rorty describes how the paradoxical victory of the antiwar flow, ushering within the Nixon years, inspired a disenchanted new release of intellectuals to pursue "High Theory" on the rate of contemplating where of rules in our universal existence. during this flip to concept, Rorty sees a retreat from the secularism and pragmatism championed by way of Dewey and Whitman, and he decries the tendency of the heirs of the recent Left to theorize in regards to the usa from a distance rather than engaging within the civic paintings of shaping our nationwide future.

In the absence of a colourful, lively Left, the perspectives of intellectuals at the American correct have come to dominate the general public sphere. This galvanizing publication, tailored from Rorty's Massey Lectures of 1997, takes step one towards redressing the imbalance in American cultural lifestyles by way of rallying these at the Left to the civic engagement and idea wanted for "achieving our country."

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Additional info for Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Sample text

E. B. Du Bois Jesse Jackson, will be remembered for having advanced the cause of social all justice. They will all be seen as having been "on the The difference between these people and men CooUdge, Irving Babbitt, Buckley will be T. far clearer S. " like Calvin Ehot, Robert Taft, and William than any of the quarrels which once divided them among themselves. " If we look for people who made no mistakes, who were al- ways on the unjust wars, right side, who never apologized for tyrants or we shall have few heroes and heroines.

New Deal. to be realized Whitman would have been delighted by rock-and-roll, drugs, and the kind of casual, friendly copulation which insouciant about the is homosexual-heterosexual distinction. The historiography of the Sixties has we need but Sixties come to viewed to be dominated by remember that lots New Left politics, of young people in the Tom Hayden with the same suspicion as they viewed Lyndon Johnson. Their principal concern was tural rather than political change. ^^ Dewey would not have expressed his desire to exalt and encourage his country by saying, as Whitman "who would be the greatest poet" must body and soul rable love to himself and and plunge demerits.

I do not think that subsequent American have made leftists any advance on Dewey's understanding of the relation be- tween the individual and Foucault that the subject sive practices minds and ety is go hearts. society. is the all Dewey was as convinced as a social construction, that discur- way down to the But he insisted that the only point of soci- to construct subjects capable of ever richer, bottom of our more novel, ever forms of human happiness. The vocabulary in which Dewey suggested we discuss our social problems and our pohtical initiatives was part of his attempt to develop a discur- sive practice suitable for that project of social construction.

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