The New Freedom: Individualism and Collectivism in the Social Lives of Americans

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1995 - Social Science - 250 pages

The root cause of contemporary American psychological and social disorders, argues William Donohue in this major new book, is the dominant culture's embracement of a fraudulent conception of freedom. In fact, the tension between an individual liberty without limits and the social need for civility and community has created havoc in the lives of many Americans.

Conventional wisdom about the nature of freedom is characterized by both the uncoupling of a concept of rights from a concept of responsibilities and by an overweening doctrine of moral neutrality. This preoccupation with individual liberty, to the neglect of other competing values, has left a trail of social discord that will be difficult to redress. Constraint of any kind is now seen as the enemy of liberty, and all that limits or burdens the individual in any way is seen as anathema to freedom.

"The New Freedom "critically examines how this new concept of freedom developed historically and why it exploded on the American scene in the 1960s. Its impact on the deepest recesses of American society, including marriage, the family, sexuality, the schools, the churches, and the criminal justice system, are fully explored. The costs have been high. Information on the psychological and social health of Americans suggests that all is not well. But the ultimate cost, says Qonohue, may be the ultimate failure of liberty, as the fraudulent new freedom collides with the human need for community.

Sure to be controversial, "The New Freedom "will provide policymakers, social scientists, and specialists in the family, education, and religion a compelling new perspective on old questions. The book will also appeal to general readers who seek to understand the root causes of the nation's unprecedented volume of social and psychological problems.

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Contents

The Unburdening of the Individual
15
Rights Mania
29
The Revolt against the Human Condition
39
Part HI The Rights of Men Women and Children
55
Origins of the Sexual Revolution
93
The Legitimacy of Illegitimacy
105
The Meaning of Gay Rights
127
The Role of the Family
147
The Role of the Schools
165
The Role of Religion
183
The Role of the Law
201
Where Do We Go from Here?
221
Index
243
Copyright

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Page 195 - I believe in God. I'm not a religious fanatic. I can't remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It's Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.
Page 71 - The mores of the society have indeed changed so radically in regard to cohabitation that we cannot impose a standard based on alleged moral considerations that have apparently been so widely abandoned by so many.
Page 48 - ... culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence.
Page 43 - They presuppose a type of man who rejects the performance principles governing the established societies; a type of man who has rid himself of the aggressiveness and brutality that are inherent in the organization of established society, and in their hypocritical, puritan morality; a type of man who is biologically incapable of fighting wars and creating suffering; a type of man who has a good conscience of joy and pleasure, and who works, collectively and individually, for a social and natural environment...
Page 209 - ... adjust" to supposedly common societal standards. This does not mean that anything goes, that all behavior is socially acceptable. But traditional delinquency policy has proscribed youthful behavior well beyond what is required to maintain a smooth-running society or to protect others from youthful depredations.
Page 173 - Because adults take the schools so much for granted, they fail to appreciate what grim, joyless places most American schools are, how oppressive and petty are the rules by which they are governed, how intellectually sterile and esthetically barren the atmosphere, what an appalling lack of civility obtains on the part of teachers and principals, what contempt they unconsciously display for children as children.
Page 27 - Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. New York: Basic Books, 1976, p.
Page 7 - The good and the notables will then be satisfied, for they will not be governed by men who are their inferiors, and the persons elected will rule justly, because others will call them to account. Every man should be responsible to others, nor should any one be allowed to do just as he pleases; for where absolute freedom is allowed there is nothing to restrain the evil which is inherent in every man.
Page 46 - Similarly, intellectual freedom would mean the restoration of individual thought now absorbed by mass communication and indoctrination, abolition of "public opinion" together with its makers. The unrealistic sound of these propositions is indicative, not of their Utopian character, but of the strength of the forces which prevent their realization. The most effective and enduring form of warfare against liberation is the implanting of material and intellectual needs that perpetuate obsolete forms...

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