By Robert W. Hoffert

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Extra resources for A Politics of Tensions: The Articles of Confederation and American Political Ideas

Example text

That story is always about the whole and the particular members of the whole who have best embodied the community's nature and destiny. Israel is the chosen people of God, it is the children of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, and it is the Jewish people led by Moses. A community is united by its story and the persons in that story who most embody its unique struggles and accomplishments. Common purposes and efforts can only be understood and maintained through knowledge of the community's distinctiveness.

Two techniques have been important to the individualistic tradition's checking efforts. The first of these is a strong advocacy for an antimajoritarian principle to counter or balance the majoritarian impulses of any democracy. That antimajoritarian principle is minority rights and protections. The essential difference between majoritarianism and minoritarianism is not the size of the group each represents. Rather, majoritarianism is always a collective principle, whereas minoritarianism is ultimately a principle of individualism.

In fact, the more limited it is the more likely it will focus on practical rules of process, leaving positive choices to free individuals, who can center their lives in an expanded and enriched private sector of individual autonomy and market competition. Democracy in the individualistic view must create a politics that speaks to and for the individual. The people rule when individuals are free and when the government that they have authorized provides an orderly protection for that freedom. Within a democracy, the greatest threat to the rule of free individuals comes most directly from the majority's will.

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