27 November 2000

Reading:  Herbert Croly, The Promise of American Life


More Herbert Croly

I spent today finishing my dissertation analysis of Croly's Promise of American LifeCroly is a Progressive intellectual who came late to the party.  That is to say, his is largely a restatement of "what should be done" by Progressives.  The most important questions philosophically had long been addressed prior to Croly's work.  Nonetheless, this book represents a concise restatement of Progressivism, and if one digs past its thesis (which is that the "reform" movement is a needed Hamiltonian response to a Jeffersonian tradition allegedly run amuck) then one finds the really interesting philosophical tidbits:  the mischaracterization (or simple misunderstanding?) of the so-called Jeffersonian tradition (he really uses the Jeffersonian tradition as a lame stand-in for natural right; and interestingly, the Declaration of Independence, the preeminent American statement on natural right, is not once mentioned by Croly; the genesis of what would become an argument for a "living" constitution; the acceptance of historicism (and complete absence of any mention of the competing natural-right vision of the American founding).  

Of course, identifying those elements of Croly's thought that are germane to my thesis -- and more narrowly, to this chapter's thesis -- takes time.  I am hopeful that tomorrow's work on Woodrow Wilson's Constitutional Government can be completed much more quickly.  

<<<<   MAIN   >>>>