THE CROSSROADS OF LIBERALISM; Croly, Weyl, Lippmann & the Progressive Era: 1900-25 by Charles B. Jr. Forcey

THE CROSSROADS OF LIBERALISM; Croly, Weyl, Lippmann & the Progressive Era: 1900-25

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This is a somewhat pretentious title for a disappointing book, which should hold more of interest and challenge for the self-styled liberals of today than it does. Forcey feels that time is ripe for a rethinking of the new liberalism, that democracy can still be made the source of liberty and creative social change --but his analysis of that era he has chosen for his subject does not inspire the reader of his book. Actually he has set himself rather sharp limitations in focusing almost the whole of his attention on Croly, Weyl and Lippmann and their creation, The New Republic. He sees Croly as the Nationalist Liberal who believed that nationalism could be made to work in tandem with liberalism, and who did not live to see the ideas set forth in his Promise of American Life endure in a new era. Weyl he defines as a Democratic Liberal, with a firmer grip on reality; Lippmann as a Voluntarist Liberal. His analysis of their joint struggle to come to grips with the men and the issues of their times,- Roosevelt and Bull Moose Nationalism, Wilson and his ambivalence towards war, is perhaps more fully explored than is the history of The New Republic they founded. All three men ultimately abandoned their dreams; with the coming of the New Deal, Lippmann swung towards conversatism. Domestic liberalism was bankrupt. These men had had the genius to see the bent of their time and to work out a new liberal philosophy. But Forcey does not make this reader feel either the importance of their contribution or the significance of their period. A somewhat trite style lacks any contagion of spark.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1961
Publisher: Oxford