The Irony of American History

By Reinhold Niebuhr

“[Niebuhr] is one in all my favourite philosophers. I remove [from his works] the compelling concept that there’s severe evil on this planet, and trouble and ache. And we must always be humble and modest in our trust we will get rid of these issues. yet we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and state of no activity. I remove . . . the feel we need to make those efforts figuring out they're hard.”—President Barack Obama
Forged in the course of the tumultuous yet victorious postwar years whilst the USA got here of age as a global energy, The Irony of yank History is extra suitable now than ever sooner than. pointed out by means of politicians as assorted as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, Niebuhr’s masterpiece at the incongruity among own beliefs and political fact is either an indictment of yank ethical complacency and a caution opposed to the confidence of advantage. Impassioned, eloquent, and deeply perceptive, Niebuhr’s knowledge will reason readers to reconsider their assumptions approximately correct and mistaken, struggle and peace.
 “The very best American theologian of the 20 th century.”—Arthur Schlesinger Jr., New York Times
“Niebuhr is necessary for the left this present day accurately simply because he warned approximately America’s tendency—including the left’s tendency—to do undesirable issues within the identify of idealism. His concept bargains a far better figuring out of the place the Bush management went unsuitable in Iraq.”—Kevin Mattson, The strong Society
Irony offers the grasp key to figuring out the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . an important e-book ever written on US overseas policy.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction

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It truly is most unlikely to conceive of a extra complex and garrulous patriotism. "H each state has its personal kind of non secular satisfaction. those examples of yank self-appreciation might be matched by means of comparable sentiments in different international locations. yet each country additionally has its strange model. Our model is that our country grew to become its again upon the vices of Europe and made a brand new starting. The Jeffersonian perception of advantage, had it no longer overstated the innocency of yankee social lifestyles, might have *Writings, XIII, p. 401. (Letter to John Adams on traditional aristocracy. ) **De Toqueville, American Democracy, Vol. II, p. 225. 28 INNOCENT kingdom blameless global been a tolerable prophecy of a few facets of our social heritage that have unique us from Europe. For it may well rarely be denied that the fluidity of our classification constitution, derived from the opulence of monetary possibilities, stored us from the acrimony of the category fight in Europe, and shunned the category uprising, which Marx may recommended in Europe yet now not in the United States. whilst the frontier ceased to supply for the growth of possibilities, our improved know-how created ever new frontiers for the formidable and adventurous. in a single feel the opulence of yankee lifestyles has served to perpetuate Jeffersonian illusions approximately human nature. For we've to date sought to resolve all our difficulties through the growth of our economic climate. This enlargement can't pass on eternally and finally we needs to face a few vexatious problems with social justice in phrases in an effort to no longer fluctuate too significantly from these which the wisest countries of Europe were pressured to usc. * *On the celebration of Thomas Huxley'S stopover at to the United States he made this important prophecy: " ... To an Englishman touchdown upon your seashores for the 1st time, traveling for enormous quantities of miles via strings of significant and well-ordered towns, seeing your huge, immense genuine, and nearly limitless power, wealth in all commodities, and within the strength and skill which flip wealth to account, there's something elegant within the vista of the longer term. don't believe that i'm pandering to what's as a rule understood through nationwide satisfaction. i will not say that i'm the least bit inspired by way of your bigness, or your fabric assets, as such. dimension isn't grandeur, and territory doesn't make a state. the nice factor, approximately which hangs a real sublimity, and the fear of overhanging destiny, is what are you going to do with most of these issues? what's to be the tip to which those are to be the capability? you make a singular test in politics at the maximum scale which the area has but noticeable. 40 hundreds of thousands at your first centenary, it's kind of to be anticipated that, on the moment, those states might be occupied by means of 200 thousands of English-speaking humans, unfold over a space as huge as that of Europe, 29 THE IRONY of yankee historical past the concept males wouldn't are available clash with each other, if the possibilities have been extensive adequate, was once partially established upon the idea that every one human wishes are determinate and all human targets ordinate.

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