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By James E. Block

During this sweeping reinterpretation of yank political tradition, James Block deals a brand new viewpoint at the formation of the fashionable American self and society. Block roots either self and society within the inspiration of supplier, instead of liberty, and dispenses with the nationwide delusion of the "sacred reason behind liberty"--with the statement of Independence as its "American scripture." as an alternative, he recovers the early glossy belief of business enterprise because the actual synthesis rising from America's Protestant and liberal cultural foundations. Block strains corporation doctrine from its pre-Commonwealth English origins via its improvement into the yankee mainstream tradition at the eve of the 20th century. the concept that of company that prevailed within the colonies concurrently published participants from conventional constraints to take part actively and self-reliantly in social associations, whereas confining them inside of a brand new set of commitments. person initiative was once now firmly bounded by means of the fashionable values and ends of non-public Protestant religiosity and collective liberal institutional authority. As Block indicates, this advanced relation of self to society lies on the root of the yank personality. A kingdom of brokers is a brand new analyzing of what the "first new kingdom" did and didn't in achieving. it's going to permit us to maneuver past long-standing nationwide myths and snatch either the yank success and its legacy for modernity.

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Extra info for A Nation of Agents: The American Path to a Modern Self and Society

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I trace here for the first time the liberalization of American Protestantism in conjunction with the liberal reconciliation with its own Protestant origins. As the deficiencies of their individual movements manifested themselves by the post–Civil War period, American Protestantism and liberalism gradually united to complete an agency society. Its components were a liberal civil religion and a Protestant-based market economy and organiza- The American Narrative in Crisis 29 tional society. This was, despite the rhetoric of Jefferson’s Declaration, the war for independence, popular government, and the ubiquitous rhetoric of a free society of free individuals, not a society of self-authorizers but a nation of agents.

The very task of modernity, of Protestantism and liberalism, was to constitute entirely novel—largely majoritarian and participatory—forms of collective authority and legitimate process by which inclusive ends were to be formulated, societally institutionalized, and individually integrated. These were to take the form, as we shall see, of the open economic market, participatory political processes, voluntarist religious institutions, and community social norms. The result, which shattered traditional hierarchical civiliza- 24 The American Narrative in Crisis tion, was the Protestant-liberal civilization of modernity with its distinctive agency forms of authority, selfhood, and institutional organization.

At the same time, since England would not fully implement agency society, the complex issues of the struggles for institutionalization and their fate lie beyond our scope. Chapters 2 and 3 offer a new reading of the emergence of the agency paradigm from traditional English culture and ideas. They trace its incubation in the treatises, tracts, diaries, sermons, and guidebooks of dissenting Puritan ministers beginning in the 1570s, followed by its later development in the religious and political insurgents who brought about the Commonwealth.

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