The Faith of a Liberal

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1993 - Political Science - 497 pages

The Faith of a Liberal is in part a misnomer, for the volume reflects the sentiments of a classical philosopher, one with intense curiosities about subjects onging from American literary tradition to the history of the physical sciences. The essays on liberalism as such do, however, bracket the volume--giving life to the title.

While Cohen shared many of the political persuasions of such other notables as John Dewey and Ralph Barton Perry, it was the distinctive spin that he gave to the iberal outlook that defines his work. His is a viewpoint stamped by the Jewish condition as a search for justice at one end, and the scientific effort at problem solving at the other. Indeed, the effort to link the two is the essence of "The Faith of a Liberal"

Whatever the subject matter or figures covered, the dorsal spine of the work is setting forth an agenda for liberalism that would clearly set it apart from the rising tides of left and right authoritarianism. The essay "Why I Am Not a Communist" remains to this day a blistering indictment of the Soviet regime and its Leninist presumptions. He saw the choice between fascism and communism as a "choice between being shot and being hanged."

The final essay, "The Future of American Liberalism," remains of wide current importance. For in it he attempts a synthesis of political individualism and economic collectivism. And even if issues have moved in different directions since that point, the emphasis on liberalism as a process rather than as a structure provides a philosophical basis to the liberal imagination that has rarely been equalled. This is a basic text for students of normative theory in politics and social thought in twentieth-century America.

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Give it an honest shot. The language isn't contemporary, but the ideas are strong.


Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 11
Section 12
Section 13
Section 14
Section 15
Section 16
Section 17
Section 18

Section 9
Section 10
Section 19
Section 20

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Page 345 - O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; Happy shall he be that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
Page 402 - What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Page 397 - As the decisions now stand I see hardly any limit but the sky to the invalidating of those rights if they happen to strike a majority of this court as for any reason undesirable.
Page 402 - I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.
Page 396 - The legislative authority of any country can only be restrained by its own municipal constitution. This is a principle that springs from the very nature of society ; and the judicial authority can have no right to question the validity of a law, unless such a jurisdiction is expressly given by the constitution.
Page 397 - I do not think the United States would come to an end if we lost our power to declare an Act of Congress void. I do think the Union would be imperiled if we could not make that declaration as to the laws of the several States.
Page 487 - The old order changeth, yielding place to new, And God fulfills himself in many ways, Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Page 306 - Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Page 246 - Government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.

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