That Broader Definition of Liberty

That Broader Definition of Liberty : The Theory and Practice of the New Deal

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That Broader Definition of Liberty synthesizes a political theory of the New Deal from the writings of Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, and Thurman Arnold. The resultant theory highlights the need for the public accountability of private economic power, arguing that when the private economic realm is unable to adequately guarantee the rights of citizens, the state must intervene to protect those rights. The New Deal created a new American social contract that accorded our right to the pursuit of happiness a status equal to liberty, and grounded both in an expansive idea of security as the necessary precondition for the exercise of either. This was connected to a theory of the common good that privileged the consumer as the central category while simultaneously working to limit the worst excesses of consumption-oriented individualism. This theory of ends was supplemented by a theory of practice that focused on ways to institutionalize progressive politics in a conservative institutional context. Brian Stipelman, drawing upon a mixture of history, American political development, and political theory, offers a comprehensive theory of the New Deal, covering both the ends it hoped to achieve and the means it used to achieve them.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 17.78mm | 521.63g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0739197290
  • 9780739197295

Table of contents

Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1: The Political Theory of the New Deal 3
Chapter 2: The Evolution of Reform: Populist and Progressive Forebears
Part II: Ends
Chapter 3: "Necessary First Lessons": The Preconditions of the Welfare State
Chapter 4: "That Broader Definition of Liberty:" The Social Contract of the New Deal
Part III: Means
Chapter 5: "All Armed Prophets Have Conquered": The New Deal's Theory of Agency
Chapter 6: The Third New Deal: The Institutional Context of Reform
Part IV: Conclusion
Chapter 7: "A Living and Growing Thing:" Appropriating New Deal Liberalism
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Review quote

[This is a] unique work in the field that will garner much praise from scholars in political science, political theory, and history. . . . [Stipelman] presents a fresh, vigorous analysis of the theoretical and political underpinnings of the New Deal and assesses not only its roots and successes, but also its continued relevance for contemporary politics, policy, and theory. For far too long, scholarship on the New Deal has been almost exclusively the domain of historians and historically-oriented political scientists. This study offers something unique and bold: a study of the political theory of the New Deal conceived not in abstract terms, but in terms of real politics while offering a compelling argument for the continued relevance of the theory of the New Deal for contemporary politics and political thought. Although the author focuses upon a set of thinkers-specifically Franklin Roosevelt, Henry Wallace, Thurman Arnold, and Eleanor Roosevelt-he escapes the typical trap of biography and the reduction of the New Deal to individual thinkers alone. This is an important, and timely work. -- Michael J. Thompson, William Paterson University An important book for both citizens and scholars. Brian Stipelman explores the meaning of the New Deal-as political theory, as political practice, and as a story to be understood and passed on. His meticulous scholarship offers us a powerful new understanding of the New Deal. His engaging conclusions offer us a fresh way to think about politics-and about liberalism in America. Bold, fresh, elegant, thoughtful, wise, and highly recommended. -- Brown University, James A. Morone, Brown University Historians and political scientists largely have viewed the New Deal as an almost purely political project. While a few historians and scholars of American political development have outlined a political theory of the New Deal, Stipelman (Dowling College) offers what is likely the first book-length study that takes seriously the ideas of New Deal Democrats. The author focuses on four key figures: Franklin Delano Roosevelt; his wife, Eleanor; his key aide (and eventual vice president), Henry A. Wallace; and the legal scholar and practitioner Thurman Arnold. Going beyond these thinkers' ideas about state intervention and institution building, Stipelman articulates the key assumptions about economics, liberty and happiness, and class structure that underlie their political thought. Some scholars may disagree with the author's emphasis on particular aspects of New Deal theory, such as the choice of consumerism as the basis of happiness and security. But even critical readers will appreciate this fine volume for its role in starting the conversation. Summing Up: Highly recommended. * CHOICE *
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About Brian Stipelman

Brian Stipelman teaches American politics and political theory at Dowling College.
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