By Joel A. Johnson
Why hasn’t democracy been embraced all over the world because the top type of government?
Aesthetic critics of democracy comparable to Carlyle and Nietzsche have argued that smooth democracy, by way of elimination the hierarchical associations that after increased society’s personality, turns voters into bland, mediocre souls. Joel A. Johnson now deals a rebuttal to those critics, drawing miraculous notion from American literary classics.
Addressing the query from a brand new standpoint, Johnson takes a clean examine the price of liberal democracy in those doubtful occasions and tackles head-on the thorny query of cultural improvement. reading the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and William Dean Howells, he exhibits that via their fiction we will achieve a greater appreciation of the wealthy aspect of lifestyle, making the controversy suitable to modern discussions of liberal democracy.
Johnson makes a speciality of a topic that liberals have inadequately addressed: even if humans are likely to strengthen absolutely as participants below liberal democracy while this sort of regime does little officially to motivate their improvement. He argues that, although the liberal worry of state-guided tradition is easily based, it may no longer hinder us from comparing liberalism’s influence on person flourishing. via extending the controversy over the worthiness of liberal democracy to incorporate democracy’s impact on person improvement, he contends that the democratic event is far fuller than the aristocratic one and therefore expands the schools of its citizens.
Critics of yankee democracy corresponding to John Rawls have sought to rework it right into a social or egalitarian democracy within the ecu sort. Johnson indicates that neither the controversy among Rawls and his communitarian critics nor the continuing dialogue of the globalization of yankee values competently addresses the basic critique of democratic tradition complicated by way of the cultured critics. Johnson’s cogent research reaches out to these readers who're prepared for a extra complete review of liberal democracy, supplying new perception into the connection among the kingdom and the person whereas blazing new trails within the intersection of politics and literature.
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Additional info for Beyond Practical Virtue: A Defense of Liberal Democracy Through Literature
One might object at the outset that the critics under discussion are mere cranks or snobs. This may be true. Disdain for America certainly colors Matthew Arnold’s writings, and few modern readers would find Carlyle’s plan for industrial organization attractive. Yet our distaste for the critics’ tone or particular policy recommendations should not distract us from considering their central objections to democracy. My task will be to identify as clearly as possible the critics’ common themes, neutralizing in the process many of the particular biases (snobbery, envy, and so on) that initially may have motivated their arguments.
Introduction 17 tions and citizens interact in daily life, laws will continue to undermine the very principles they proclaim. Liberal theory has a similar weakness concerning citizens’ development as human beings. Content with leaving people to their own devices, as long as they obey the law and do not harm each other, liberal theorists pay little attention to whether their institutions aid or impede individual development in practice. They are unaccustomed to handling such questions, which involve a complexity at odds with the elegant simplicity of most of their formulas (for example, equal rights for all).
However, this tolerant attitude tends toward anarchy; unequal things are treated equally, and anyone who “calls himself the people’s friend” will be honored, regardless of his past record. Democrats are unable to make value distinctions between different ways of life, pursuing unnecessary and harmful pleasures along with necessary ones. Wealth, honor, and wisdom are no longer privileged in such a system. All ends are considered equally worthwhile, and higher goods must compete—often at a disadvantage—with lesser goods in an open marketplace.
Beyond Practical Virtue: A Defense of Liberal Democracy Through Literature by Joel A. Johnson