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By Richard J. Ellis

This paintings demanding situations the thesis first formulated by means of de Tocqueville and later systematically constructed by means of Louis Hartz, that American political tradition is characterised by way of a consensus on liberal capitalist values. Ranging over 300 years of heritage and drawing upon the seminal paintings anthropologist Mary Douglas, Richard Ellis demonstrates that American background is healthier understood as a competition among 5 rival political cultures: egalitarian group, aggressive individualism, hierarchical collectivism, atomized fatalism, and independent hermitude.

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11 Rather than posit a Lockeanism that controls and confines American political discourse, I accent the ways in which adherents of rival political cultures have used Lockean language and principles to bolster their preferred patterns of social relations. At the same time, however, Locke suggests that in the state of nature men can rightfully acquire only enough to meet the immediate necessities of life. " 13 Here is a Locke more attractive to those imbued with an egalitarian ethos. The introduction of money makes it possible for people to accumulate goods beyond immediate use without having them spoil.

Julian, Benjamin F. 61 None of these men, of course, advocated collective ownership of property. "63 Realizing this vision of a South populated by small family-owned farms, however, required them to significantly modify Lockean precepts concerning the inviolate right to private property. Radicals did want to break the power of the planter aristocracy but they also worked hard to forestall the concentration of land in the hands of northern capitalists and speculators. "65 "Every man," Julian reminded his congressional colleagues, "has by nature...

Their attempts to institutionalize alternative patterns of social relations in schools, settlement houses, and community centers attest to that. So, too, do their efforts (sometimes successful, sometimes not) to assert public control over the economy. At the local level, this meant pushing for municipal ownership and operation of essential services like garbage collection and lighting. The attempt to assert a public interest separate from and superior to private interests also manifested itself in citywide planning, zoning and building codes, regulation of noise, smoke and waste disposal, and standards for the treatment of workers and consumers.

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