The Idea of Fraternity in America

  • by Wilson Carey McWilliams

  • 730 pages, 6.14 x 9.21

  • Paperback | 9780268205355 | June 2023

  • Hardcover | 9780268205348 | June 2023

  • eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268205331 | June 2023

Description

“A complex, intellectually jarring, and valuable book, one which reveals how early America became her true self as we now know her.” —Kirkus Reviews

The United States is currently experiencing a crisis of citizenship and democracy. For many of us, there is a sense of forlornness caused by losing sight of human connectedness and the bonds of community. Originally published in 1973, and long out of print, The Idea of Fraternity in America is a resonant call to reclaim and restore the communal bonds of democracy by one of the most important political theorists of the twentieth century, Wilson Carey McWilliams.

This sprawling and majestic book offers a comprehensive and original interpretation of the whole range of American historical and political thought, from seventeenth-century White Puritanism to twentieth-century Black American political thought. In one sense, it is a long and sustained reflection on the American political tradition, with side glances at other cultures and other traditions; in another sense, it is an impressive beginning to an original and comprehensive theory of politics, rooted in a new reading of a vast array of relevant sources. Speaking with a prescience unmatched by his contemporaries, McWilliams argues that in order to address the malaise of our modern democracy we must return to an ideal of our past: fraternity, a relation of affection founded on shared values and goals. This 50th anniversary edition, which offers a critique of the liberal tradition and a new social philosophy for the future, contains a new introduction from McWilliams’s daughter, Susan McWilliams Barndt. She writes, “At a time when many Americans are wondering how we got to where we are today . . . this book demonstrates that there is in fact a lot of precedent for what feels so unprecedented in contemporary American politics.”