Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Just finished the Strange Death of American Liberalism. HW Brands argues that American liberalism, which he defines as the belief that state power can create positive outcomes, was an outgrowth of the Cold War. The need to compete with the Soviets and present a good image to the world led to an activist government. He carefully separates doing good (making people wealthier, improving health care) from preventing evil (regulating drugs and food,) which is sensible. Most people trust the government to regulate but the American populace doesn't seem interested in large programs in the Great Society mold. He postulates that another security crisis could lead to a return to liberalism. Given the state of the American image abroad and the ongoing threats to security, could a new liberalism be upon us?

Also note that his definition of liberalism does not include a drive by civil society to become more progressive. In his terms, this would be the conservative approach as it is the people rather than the government acting. Any way, it's a quick interesting read.

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