Sample G21 from Brainard Cheney, "Christianity and the Tragic Vision-Utopianism USA," The Sewanee Review, LXIX: 4 (Autumn, 1961), 518-524 A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,001 words 194 (9.7%) quotes 1 symbolG21

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Brainard Cheney, "Christianity and the Tragic Vision-Utopianism USA," The Sewanee Review, LXIX: 4 (Autumn, 1961), 518-524

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American democratic thought , pointed up the relation between the Protestant movement in this country and the development of a social religion , which he called the American Democratic Faith . Those familiar with his work will remember that he placed the incipience of the democratic faith at around 1850 . And he describes it as a balanced polarity between the notions of the free individual and what he called the fundamental law . I want to say more about Gabriel's so-called fundamental law . But first I want to quote him on the relationship that he found between religion and politics in this country and what happened to it . He points out that from the time of Jackson on through World War 1 , , evangelical Protestantism was a dominant influence in the social and political life of America . He terms this early enthusiasm `` Romantic Christianity '' and concludes that its similarity to democratic beliefs of that day is so great that `` the doctrine of liberty seems but a secular version of its counterpart in evangelical Protestantism '' . Let me quote him even more fully , for his analysis is important to my theme . He says : `` beside the Protestant philosophy of Progress , as expressed in radical or conservative millenarianism , should be placed the doctrine of the democratic faith which affirmed it to be the duty of the destiny of the United States to assist in the creation of a better world by keeping lighted the beacon of democracy '' . He specifies , `` in the middle period of the Nineteenth Century it was colored by Christian supernaturalism , in the Twentieth Century it was affected by naturalism . But in every period it has been humanism '' . And let me add , utopianism , also . Some fourteen or fifteen years ago , in an essay I called The Leader Follows -- Where ? ? I used his polarity to illustrate what I thought had happened to us in that form of liberalism we call Progressivism . It seemed to me that the liberals had scrapped the balanced polarity and reposed both liberty and the fundamental law in the common man . That is to say Gabriel's fundamental law had been so much modified by this time that it was neither fundamental nor law any more . It is a weakness of Gabriel's analysis that he never seems to realize that his so-called fundamental law had already been cut loose from its foundations when it was adapted to democracy . And with Progressivism the Religion of Humanity was replacing what Gabriel called Christian supernaturalism . And the common man was developing mythic power , or charisma , on his own . During the decade that followed , the common man , as that piece put it , grew uncomfortable as the Voice of God and fled from behind Saint Woodrow ( Wilson ) only to learn from Science , to his shocked relief that after all there was no God he had to speak for and that he was just an animal anyhow -- that there was a chemical formula for him , and that too much couldn't be expected of him . The socialism implicit in the slogan of the Roosevelt Revolution , freedom from want and fear , seems a far cry from the individualism of the First Amendment to the Constitution , or of the Jacksonian frontier . What had happened to the common man ? ? French Egalitarianism had had only nominal influence in this country before the days of Popularism . The riotous onrush of industrialism after the War for Southern Independence and the general secular drift to the Religion of Humanity , however , prepared the way for a reception of the French Revolution's socialistic offspring of one sort of another . The first of which to find important place in our federal government was the graduated income tax under Wilson . Moreover the centralization of our economy during the 1920s , the dislocations of the Depression , the common ethos of Materialism everywhere , all contributed in various ways to the face-lifting that replaced Mike Fink and the Great Gatsby with the anonymous physiognomy of the Little People . However , it is important to trace the philosophy of the French Revolution to its sources to understand the common democratic origin of individualism and socialism and the influence of the latter on the former . That John Locke's philosophy of the social contract fathered the American Revolution with its Declaration of Independence , I believe , we generally accept . Yet , after Rousseau had given the social contract a new twist with his notion of the General Will , the same philosophy , it may be said , became the idea source of the French Revolution also . The importance of Rousseau's twist has not always been clear to us , however . This notion of the General Will gave rise to the Commune of Paris in the Revolution and later brought Napoleon to dictatorship . And it is clearly argued by Lord Percy of Newcastle , in his remarkable long essay , The Heresy Of Democracy , and in a more general way by Voegelin , in his New Science Of Politics , that this same Rousseauan idea , descending through European democracy , is the source of Marx's theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat . This is important to understanding the position that doctrinaire liberals found themselves in after World War 2 , and our great democratic victory that brought no peace . The long road that had taken liberals in this country into the social religion of democracy , into a worship of man , led logically to the Marxist dream of a classless society under a Socialist State . And the ussr existed as the revolutionary experiment in radical socialism , the ultimate exemplar . And by the time the war ended , liberal leadership in this country was spiritually Marxist . We will recall that the still confident liberals of the Truman administration gathered with other Western utopians in San Francisco to set up the legal framework , finally and at last , to rationalize war -- to rationalize want and fear -- out of the world : the United Nations . We of the liberal-led world got all set for peace and rehabilitation . Then suddenly we found ourselves in the middle of another fight , an irrational , an indecent , an undeclared and immoral war with our strongest ( and some had thought noblest ) ally . During the next five years the leaders of the Fair Deal reluctantly backed down from the optimistic expectations of the New Deal . During the next five years liberal leaders in the United States sank in the cumulative confusion attendant upon and manifested in a negative policy of Containment -- and the bitterest irony -- enforced and enforceable only by threat of a weapon that we felt the greatest distaste for but could not abandon : the atom bomb . In 1952 , it will be remembered , the G.O.P. without positive program campaigned on the popular disillusionment with liberal leadership and won overwhelmingly . All of this , I know , is recent history familiar to you . But I have been at some pains to review it as the drama of the common man , to point up what happened to him under Eisenhower's leadership . A perceptive journalist , Sam Lubell , has phrased it in the title of one of his books as the revolt of the moderates . He opens his discourse , however , with a review of the Eisenhower inaugural festivities at which a sympathetic press had assembled its massive talents , all primed to catch some revelation of the emerging new age . The show was colorful , indeed , exuberant , but the press for all its assiduity could detect no note of a fateful rendezvous with destiny . Lubell offers his book as an explanation of why there was no clue . And I select this sentence as its pertinent summation : `` in essence the drama of his ( Eisenhower's ) Presidency can be described as the ordeal of a nation turned conservative and struggling -- thus far with but limited and precarious success -- to give effective voice and force to that conservatism '' . I will assume that we are all aware of the continuing struggle , with its limited and precarious success , toward conservatism . It has moved on various levels , it has been clamorous and confused . Obviously there has been no agreement on what American conservatism is , or rather , what it should be . For it was neglected , not to say nascent , when the struggle began . I saw a piece the other day assailing William Buckley , author of Man And God at Yale and publisher of The National Review , as no conservative at all , but an old liberal . I would agree with this view . But I'm not here to define conservatism . What I am here to do is to report on the gyrations of the struggle -- a struggle that amounts to self-redefinition -- to see if we can predict its future course . One of the obvious conclusions we can make on the basis of the last election , I suppose , is that we , the majority , were dissatisfied with Eisenhower conservatism . Though , to be sure , we gave Kennedy no very positive approval in the margin of his preferment . This is , however , symptomatic of our national malaise . But before I try to diagnose it , I would offer other evidence . I will mention two volumes of specific comment on this malaise that appeared last year . The earlier of them was an unofficial enterprise , sponsored by Life magazine , under the title of The National Purpose . The contributors to this testament were all well-known : a former Democratic candidate for President , a New Deal poet , the magazine's chief editorial writer , two newspaper columnists , head of a national broadcasting company , a popular Protestant evangelist , etc. . What I want to point out here is that all of them are ex-liberals , or modified liberals , with perhaps one exception . I suppose we might classify Billy Graham as an old liberal . And I would further note that they all -- with one exception again -- sang in one key or another the same song . Its refrain was : `` let us return to the individualistic democracy of our forefathers for our salvation '' .

Adlai Stevenson expressed some reservations about this return . Others invoked technology and common sense . Only Walter Lippman envisioned the possibility of our having `` outlived most of what we used to regard as the program of our national purposes '' .

But the most notable thing about the incantation of these ex-liberals was that the one-time shibboleth of socialism was conspicuously absent .

The second specific comment was the report of Eisenhower's Commission on National Goals , titled Goals For Americans . They , perhaps , gave the pitch of their position in the preface where it was said that Eisenhower requested that the Commission be administered by the American Assembly of Columbia University , because it was non-partisan . The Commission seems to represent the viewpoint of what I would call the unconscious liberal , but not unconscious enough , to invoke the now taboo symbolism of socialism . And here again we hear the same refrain mentioned above : `` the paramount goal of the United States set long ago was to guard the rights of the individual , ensure his development , enlarge his opportunity '' . This group is secularist and their program tends to be technological . But it is the need to undertake these testaments that I would submit here as symptom of the common man's malaise . And let me add Murray's new book as another symptom of it , particularly so in view of the attention Time magazine gave it when it came out recently . Father Murray goes back to the Declaration of Independence , too , though I may add , with considerably more historical perception . I will reserve discussion of it for a moment , however , to return to President Kennedy . As symptomatic of the common man's malaise , he is most significant : a liberal and a Catholic , elected by the skin of his teeth . Does that not suggest to you an uncertain and uneasy , not to say confused , state of the public mind ? ? What is the common man's complaint ? ? Let's take a panoramic look back over the course we have come . Has not that way been lit always by the lamp of liberalism up until the turning back under Eisenhower ? ? And the basic character of that liberalism has been spiritual rather than economic . Ralph Gabriel gave it the name of Protestant philosophy of Progress . But there's a subjective side to that utopian outlook .