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By Robert W. Hoffert

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Extra resources for A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas

Sample text

An order must be established that will define and enforce uniform rules and procedures for all and that will permit individuals, within the limits of these parameters, to operate as they see fit. In other words, it is a limited order, centered on matters of process, which preserves as much individual liberty as is consistent with maintaining order. Politics is necessary for the sake of order. But even this necessity is Page 8 valid only if it leads to an order that cherishes and gives maximum protection to the fundamental political value - individual liberty.

The most familiar interpretations of America's political ideas have insisted on a choice between the consensus and conflict - between the integrative and disintegrative characteristics - evident in American democracy. Robert Brown, Richard Hofstadter, and Louis Hartz, for example, emphasize the unity of America's political tradition. For them the Constitution of 1787 is the fulfillment of the events and understandings of 1776. This view sees only a need to explain a profoundly consensual society.

This common authority will be the basis for the reliable orderliness in which nature is deficient. Now it will be possible for the competitive process to realize its full, positive vitality. Competition will be conducted within fair and uniform rules of the game, the results of competition will have legitimacy, and there will be a common authority to sanction, enforce, and protect the process and its consequences. Individuals, with less freedom and authority in principle, will have more security and self-satisfaction than is ever possible for them under the pure conditions of their natural freedom.

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A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas by Robert W. Hoffert

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