Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age by Daniel T. Rodgers

By Daniel T. Rodgers

Conscious of America's backwardness not like eu development, Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 referred to as his kingdom "The such a lot belated of nations". Princeton historian Daniel Rodgers recounts America's efforts to fix the wear and tear of unbridled capitalism.

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Where there is only comparison or culturally imagined difference there can be envy or pride in abundance, but there can be no sustained trade in social policy. Neither of these two convergent tendencies was unopposed during the era of Atlantic social politics. Nationalism was a powerful, convulsive force in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century life. The social landscapes of industrial capitalism, for all their common features, were riven with economic disparities. But enough of the real and imagined distance between the nation-states shrank in this era to make a trade in social policy possible.

One of the marks of an observant American traveler in rural Europe before the First World War was curiosity as to who owned it. The answer could not but stiffen the Americans' patriotic sentiments. One quarter of England and Wales in 1873 was held by only 360 owners; in the same year 350 landowners possessed fully two-thirds of all the land in Scotland. 3 From landed bases like these, the old aristocracies retained a powerful lien on politics and the state. Nowhere in late-nineteenth-century Europe, France and Switzerland excepted, did universal male suffrage rule, as it did in theory (and, in practice, for white males) in the United States.

From the moment the first Europeans arrived in the North American continent, Europe had occupied a central, ineradicable place in their political imaginations, but the terms of the relationship had not always been ones of connection. From the American Revolution into the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the figures of speech that dominated the Atlantic relationship had been, to the contrary, starkly oppositional. Europe was the Old World, the continent of decadence and decay. America was new: the continent of rebirth, site of a new historical dispensation.

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