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Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalism Hardcover – April 3, 2007
"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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Top Customer Reviews
Paul Starr is not only a professor of sociology and politics at Princeton, he is also one of the founding members of " The American Prospect." On the political spectrum, that would place him to the left of "The New Republic" and to the right of "The Nation." In this book, he attempts to rehabilitate modern liberalism from being a term of abuse. He traces its origins back to the 17th century. According to Starr, the first phase of liberalism was known as "classical liberalism" or "constitutional liberalism," forged by the Glorious Revolution in Britain and the American Revolution. In this phase liberals sought to contain state power in the name of individual liberty. A balanced constitution would guarantee rule of law and individual rights.
It is from this historical milieu that conservatism also springs. They also trace their origins back to these two revolutions. (Read Michael Barone's Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers.Read more ›
Full of resentful fury at the ideologically based incompetence, irresponsibility, and felonious assaults on constitutional liberty that characterize the bush "administration", one might crave more stirring reading.
One MIGHT be disappointed...
Except, this is not a book for people who just want to be outraged. It is a well-crafted explanation of the development of "liberal" thinking AND ACTIONS starting from the late Enlightenment/early Industrial Revolution. This evolution involved many splits and transformations. But it also represents some coherent progression to a consensus that MAY actually be growing in power and acceptance.
It should be required reading for citizenship . . . but that would be a naive, moralistic (as well as utterly unenforceable and counterproductive) requirement. It would also be contrary to democratic liberalism, as it has evolved.
Still reading this book drove home several points. First, even without the current "presidential" disaster, we should never be complacent about our constitutional liberties and their economic, political, civic, and other structural underpinnings. Second, worthwhile progress takes lots of hard work, serious clear eyed thinking, and strategic compromises; its success and failure is measured more in decades than in years. Third, so much cynicism (along with so much idealism) is rooted in thoughts and feelings divorced from responsible experience.
Not everyone will read this book. But I hope that many who do will work to use its examples and ideas to bring more citizens back into the political process. The stakes are very high.
(I'm still gonna try to give less $$ to the Democrats and more to orgs like MOVEON)
Many times the book states denial of socialism in association with liberal ideology.
It's true enough that the 'War on Poverty' is not socialism. However, the current practice of liberalism, consisting of expensive universal programs, is peace-meal social engineering with a worse result. Starr fails to note that anti-poverty legislation has always taken a back seat to war and Great Society socialism in the liberal agenda. That may be an excuse for failure, but he is very premature in claiming success. Reagan was absolutely right to say “We fought the war against poverty and poverty won. Many liberals advocate collective action as necessary to ameliorate inequality. Programs sold to the public as being good for everyone are central planned social engineering, if not true socialism. Starr thinks that the Soviet Union collapse indicates failure of world socialism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this is a great book that really caught my attention. this really wakes people and makes u think this is a must read for all AmericansPublished on October 29, 2013 by chris
A very Well argued book. Does a great job defining Classical and Modern Liberalism.Published on January 18, 2010 by Laughing Man
Paul Starr is Professor Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and grew up during the years of student radicalism in the USA, working for Ralph Nader about the time... Read morePublished on July 19, 2009 by Herbert Gintis