specifically different from the purely negative notion which prevails amongst the radicals and revolutionists of Europe. With the American, freedom is anything but a mere absence of restraint[, an arbitrary, licentious indulgence, every one following his natural impulse, as the revolutionists would have it. I]t is a rational, moral, self-determination, hand in hand with law, order, and authority. True national freedom, in the American view, rests upon a moral groundwork, upon the virtue of self-possession and self-control in individual citizens.[ He alone is worthy of this great blessing and capable of enjoying it who holds his passions in check; is master of his sensual nature; obeys natural laws, not under pressure from without, but from inward impulse, cheerfully and joyfully. But the negative and hollow liberalism, or rather the radicalism, which undermines the authority of law, and sets itself against Christianity and the church, necessarily dissolves all social ties, and ends in anarchy; which then passes very easily into the worst and most dangerous form of despotism.]"Andrew Delbanco, The real American dream: a meditation on hope, The William E. Massey Sr. lectures in the history of American civilization 1998 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 61-62. Delbanco is citing Philip Schaff, America: a sketch of the political, social, and religious character of the United States of North America, in two lectures, (New York: C. Scribner, 1855), 43-44 (though I have reinserted in brackets what Delbanco leaves out: what he almost has to leave out, since he has moved from the chapter on "God" to the chapter on "Nation" (en route to the chapter on "Self")).
Saturday, April 20, 2013
"With the American, freedom is anything but a mere absence of restraint, an arbitrary, licentious indulgence, every one following his natural impulse".
"The aspirations of this new kind of citizen were moderated by what Thomas Jefferson had called 'temperate liberty': a capacity for self-government in which the rational understanding acts as a check on the unruly will. And the inner psychological structure of this temperate republican matched the outer system of checks and balances built into the republic itself. For Jefferson temperate liberty was the key to both personal happiness and civil society. It was a 'conception of freedom,' as Philip Schaff realized,