American Political Thought Journal: Summer 2019 Issue
American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, has recently published its Summer 2019 issue, which includes pieces by JMC fellows Steven Bilakovics, Peter Onuf, and Scott Yenor.
>> Table of Contents <<
- “Republican Institutionalism for a ‘Government of Laws’: The Polybian Political Science of John Adams,” Ben Peterson
- “Communications and Empire: George Washington’s Farewell Address,” Michael S. Kochin
- “The Vices of Our Virtues: Tocqueville and the Constitution of the American Dream,” Steven Bilakovics
- “James Bradley Thayer and the Presumption of Constitutionality: A Strange Posthumous Career,” Matthew J. Franck
Justice Finch: The Complicated Law and Politics of Harper Lee’s Atticus and Scout,” Matthew Van Hook
- “Empire of the People: Settler Colonialism and the Foundations of Modern Democratic Thought, by Adam Dahl,” Peter S. Onuf
- “Benjamin Franklin, Natural Right, and the Art of Virtue, by Kevin Slack,” Michael Zuckerman
- “On the Penitentiary System in the United States and Its Application to France, by Gustave de Beaumont, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Emily Ferkaluk; Tocqueville’s Moderate Penal Reform, by Emily Ferkaluk,” Cary Federman
- “Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon: Aesthetic Dissent and the Common Law, by Allen Mendenhall,” Benjamin Patrick Newton
- “The Cambridge Companion to the United States Constitution, edited by Karen Orren and John W. Compton,” Christopher P. McMillion
- “Strange Bedfellows: Marriage in the Age of Women’s Liberation, by Alison Lefkovitz,” Scott Yenor
- “The Virtues of Exit: On Resistance and Quitting Politics, by Jennet Kirkpatrick,” Ross David Jacobs
- “Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men”: A Reader’s Companion, by Jonathan S. Cullick,” Steven D. Ealy
“The Vices of Our Virtues: Tocqueville and the Constitution of the American Dream,“ Steven Bilakovics
In this essay, Steven Bilakovics posits that the American Dream does not amount, as is often alleged, to the empty promise of a naive exceptionalism. Nor does it reduce to the self-indulgent expectation of instant gratification. Rather, the rhetoric of the Dream is most often employed precisely to critique these one-dimensional distortions, to admonish that the nation’s aspirational identity is in crisis and on the verge of decline into daydream, pipe dream, or nightmare. Drawing on Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Bilakovics argues that the Dream is a resonant but precarious synthesis of the values of individual freedom, material progress, and moral community. These dimensions stand in tension with one another and are moreover prone to their respective excesses of individualism, materialism, and moralism. Within the dynamic of this complex constitution, the Dream sanctions its own critique; we reaffirm our promise by denouncing our prodigality. As such, the Dream serves as the jeremiad of the American civil religion.
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Steven Bilakovics is Assistant Director of the Center for the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Founder and Director of the American Dream in Los Angeles program. He teaches courses on democracy, capitalism, American political thought, and the history of political thought. Professor Bilakovics is the author of Democracy without Politics (Harvard University Press, 2012), which extends Tocqueville’s analysis of democratic modernity to uncover the democratic sources of our political cynicism. His current work include a critique of the constitution, broadly understood, of market society, and an interpretation of the rhetoric (particularly after 9/11) wherein crisis is represented as an opportunity for civic and democratic renewal.
Professor Bilakovics is a JMC fellow.
Learn more about Steven Bilakovics >>
“Empire of the People: Settler Colonialism and the Foundations of Modern Democratic Thought, by Adam Dahl,” Peter S. Onuf
Peter S. Onuf reviews Adam Dahl’s 2018 book, Empire of the People: Settler Colonialism and the Foundations of Modern Democratic Thought. Onuf finds it to be “a provocative meditation on the ‘national’ or ‘imperial imaginary’ of antebellum American statesmen and intellectuals.”
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Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia. He is also Senior Fellow at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. A leading scholar of Jefferson and the early American republic, he is the author, co-author, and editor of several books, including Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (2001) and The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007). Professor Onuf is also a co-host of the weekly public radio program and podcast Backstory with the American History Guys.
Professor Onuf is a JMC fellow.
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“Strange Bedfellows: Marriage in the Age of Women’s Liberation, by Alison Lefkovitz,” Scott Yenor
Scott Yenor reviews Strange Bedfellows: Marriage in the Age of Women’s Liberation, by Alison Lefkovitz, which examines marriage after the victory of feminism.
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Scott Yenor is a Professor of Political Science at Boise State University, where he teaches political philosophy. He is the author of articles on David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment, presidential power, and literature and politics, and of Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought (Baylor 2011). He is currently working on several projects, including a book on the principles of family regime for the late modern world, David Hume’s humanity, and an analysis of American Reconstruction.
Professor Yenor is a JMC fellow.
Learn more about Scott Yenor >>
American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture is a JMC supported journal that bridges the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research. It is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of American political thought. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation of the American political tradition. Research explores key political concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
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