Raymond College, University of the Pacific
Article taken from American Quarterly, Vol. 19, 1967
Scanned by John Barans for the American Studies program at the University of Virginia, October, 1997
ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD ONCE REMARKED, "A CLASH OF DOCTRINES IS NOT a disaster, it is an opportunity." If this be so, then the critical interpretation of American history is indeed blessed with abundant opportunities; for if conflicts among interpreters rarely border on the doctrinal, they have in the last decade and a half produced some of the liveliest debates in the history of American history.
Progressive interpretations dominated American historiography for a quarter-century after 1920, (1) and indeed have characterized the discipline of American history since it emerged as a profession soon after the turn of the twentieth century. Charles Crowe, a student of progressive historiography, has recently commented on parallels between its modes of thought and those of the Progressive era in American politics. Crowe maintains that it was informed more by a mood and an attitude than by clearly expressed principles of historical interpretation.
Progressive history . . . was not a philosophy of history, nor even a scrupulously delineated, minutely defined interpretation of the American past. Rather it was a set of related impressions, a framework of pragmatic and Progressive assumptions and attitudes, which inspired the first great flowering of American scholarship in American history. (2)
Soon after the end of World War II, that attitude toward history-with its optimistic vision of the American future, its vivid sense of social and economic injustice, its lively commitment to political activism-began to disintegrate under the dual burden of external events of the cold war and internal dissent within the profession itself.
In the last fifteen or so years, that dissent has become virtually the dominant intellectual theme in American historiography. It ranges from moderate critiques of those who work within the progressive tradition but who nonetheless detect its shortcomings-Morton White's Social Thought in America comes to mind-to those decidedly alienated from that tradition and who seem indeed hostile to it-Christopher Lasch's New Radicalism in America is a conspicuous example. It ranges from critical studies of the Progressive era itself-for example, Henry May's End of American Innocence or David Noble's Paradox of Progressive Thought-to large-scale interpretations of how the progressive impulse has functioned throughout America's past-Louis Hartz's Liberal Tradition in America, for example. It ranges from studies of individual progressive historians-Lee Benson's Turner and Beard, Cushing Strout's Pragmatic Revolt in American History or Arthur Ekirch's "Parrington and the Decline of American Liberalism"-to broad critiques of progressive historiography in general-Robert Skotheim's American Intellectual Histories and Historians or David Noble's Historians against History. Finally, it has borrowed techniques and ideas from the behavioral sciences, especially sociology and psychology, to supplement and in some cases replace the dominantly politico-economic framework of progressive historiography. Richard Hofstadter's Age of Reform, Benson's Concept of Jacksonian Democracy, Alexander and Juliette George's Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House and again Lasch's New Radicalism in America come to mind here. (3)
It is clear what negatively unites these post-World War II critiques. From varying perspectives and in varying moods they all concur that the progressive stance is no longer adequate for interpreting American history. What, if anything, positively unites them is another, and more vexing, question.
In a 1962 article published in The American Historical Review, John Higham warned, "now that the progressive impulse is subsiding, scholarship is threatened with a moral vacuum." (4) Higham charged that the new history is dominated by an anti-progressive thrust and thus threatens the profession with "the danger of a largely negative scholarship, revisionist in motive but routine or merely clever in result." (5) He urged historians to seek a moral stance beyond the bland "consensus" interpretation which seemed to dominate the newer histories. In a 1965 essay published in this journal, Dwight Hoover echoed this same charge, adding his own revelation of motive to the analysis of result made by Higham. Hoover claimed that American historians have acceded to the inhibiting force of cold war anti-communism, the McCarthy era, the comforts of rising affluence and the Johnson consensus, and have therefore produced histories "through the eyes of those possessed of power" and not "through the eyes of the dispossessed...." (6) Charles Crowe more moderately has remarked, "it seems unlikely that anyone in the next few years will provide very satisfactory explanations for the change" away from progressive interpretations. He concludes, "It is impossible to draw even the contours of revisionist developments." (7)
Post-World War II American histories have been variously labeled ''conformist,'' "conservative," "complacent," less pejoratively "consensus," and Crowe's more humble if less distinctive "revisionist." (8) Without question the term "revisionist" is legitimate, but it signifies only that the new scholarship is non- or anti-progressive. It is the thesis of this essay, however, that dimensions of this new scholarship are positive as well as negative, creative as well as reactive. The essay investigates one of those dimensions-attitudes which newer scholars have assumed toward political "reality." In brief, it asserts that revisionists have arrived at different conclusions primarily because they began with different, and different types of, perceptions. But before the analysis, some necessary structure.
In a number of provocative works, but particularly in The Philosophy of Literary Form, the literary critic Kenneth Burke has set out to view literature in its total human context-appropriating insights from philosophy, the social sciences, mass culture and his own personal experience when relevant. His method is not simply eclectic, moreover, but based upon a coherent set of assumptions about how literature and life dramatically interact. Language to Burke is action. Further, it is "symbolic" action, in that it expresses men's efforts to communicate with their environment, and to create symbols to order that communication. Language, in whatever form and of whatever quality, is interpreted by Burke as a series of humanly-created "strategies" for responding to selectively perceived "situations." The Philosophy's opening passage clearly conveys this integration of life and language.
Let us suppose that you ask me: "What did the man say?" And that I answer: "He said 'yes.'" You still do not know what the man said. You would not know unless you knew more about the situation.... Critical and imaginative works are answers to questions posed by the situation in which they arose. They are not merely answers, they are strategic answers, stylized answers. For there is a difference in style or strategy, if one says "yes" in tonalities that imply "thank God" or in tonalities that imply "alas!" So I would propose an initial working distinction between "strategies" and "situations," whereby we think of poetry (here I use the term to include any work of critical or imaginative cast) as the adopting of various strategies for the encompassing of situations. (9)
Burke's concern is thus not primarily for integrating life and literature but for understanding man-man as symbolic animal, man as he encounters his world with thought and language. Not aesthetic man, but man, as aesthetic, is Burke's locus of concern. Art, he maintains, should be interpreted as "equipment for living." His "sociological" categories analyze art "as strategies for selecting enemies and allies, for socializing losses, for warding off evil eye, for purification, propitiation, and desanctification, consolation and vengeance, admonition and exhortation, implicit commands or instructions of one sort or another.'' (10) Burke proposes therefore not to "reduce" art to sociology, but to "elevate" sociology to art. Strategically defending this alternative set of categories against imagined critics, he muses:
These categories will lie on the bias across the categories of modern specialization. The new alignment will outrage in particular those persons who take the divisions of our faculties in our universities to be an exact replica of the way in which God himself divided up the universe.... Among other things, a sociological approach should attempt to provide a reintegrative point of view, a broader empire of investigation encompassing the lot. (1l)
Burke's categories virtually collapse one of the most enduring and vexing dichotomies of American Studies scholarship-the conflict between causal analyses of social science and assumptions of purpose and value from the humanities. For Burke, "strategies" go beyond economic and social background-the province of the sociology of knowledge-to include consideration of purpose. The individual responds to "situations" not only from what he is, but from what he aspires to be. To cause Burke adds telos, thus integrating not only life and literature but fundamental aspects of the social sciences and the humanities.
To Kenneth Burke, then, life and literature intersect in "symbolic action," life providing the impetus and organic substance for literature and literature the dramatized response which gives order and crystallized meaning to life. Though "symbolism" ordinarily implies, in Burke's words, "the unreality of the world in which we live, as though nothing could be what it is, but must always be something else," he uses the word in a more mundane and operational sense. "Symbolism" as used in The Philosophy implies little about the ultimate reality of things, but focuses rather on the perceiving mind. Its concern is psychological, not metaphysical. "The 'symbolism' of a word consists in the fact that no one quite uses the word in its mere dictionary sense. And the overtones of a usage are revealed 'by the company it keeps' in the utterances of a given speaker or writer.'' (12)
With Burke's categories as background structure, we can now return to this essay's focus on recent American scholarship. The essay's basic thesis can now be extended-it contends that one dimension of the newer scholarship is a "symbolist" view of political reality, and that this view is replacing progressive perceptions of the older scholarship.
How to support this contention? One method would be to test the Burkean categories on a large number of the revisionist works previously cited. But to cover several works in a single article, subtleties in method, style and assumption would have to be unduly abridged. We already have a number of large-scale comparisons of the "new" v. the "old" scholarship. What we lack are detailed case studies of individual works, focusing in depth on interrelationships within these newer works and contrasting them with similar themes in progressive scholarship. We need to subject revisionist histories to the type of close reading which a literary critic might give them.
This essay is required by its choice of theme, then, to analyze only a few works in the new scholarship, trusting that sufficiently detailed investigation at this early stage may provide substance for more confident generalizing later. Consequently, the essay focuses on attitudes toward political "reality" found in just four works-two in American history, and two in behavioral science. Lee Benson's The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy and Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s The Age of Jackson, M. Brewster Smith et al.'s Opinions and Personality and T. W. Adorno et al.'s The Authoritarian Personality are to be used as case studies in exploring new revisionist interpretations in dialogue with the progressive views they attempt to revise.
Why these four? First, because they are all authoritative works in their respective fields, and have significantly affected subsequent research. (13) Second, though they may or may not be "representative," (14) these works do illuminate tendencies found in revisionist scholarship, and in the progressive interpretations they attempt to revise. Schlesinger's progressivism is obvious, indeed at times militant in its moral fervor; and Benson's conscious intent is revealed in his book's title-to subject the progressive concept of Jacksonian democracy to detailed scrutiny and revise or abandon it accordingly. In so revising and abandoning, he has drawn heavily on the views of Richard Hofstadter and Louis Hartz, major spokesmen for revisionist historiography. (l5) And the analysis which follows should make clear that this pattern of progressive interpretation and revisionist response characterizes The Authoritarian Personality and Opinions and Personality also.
Third, the two views taken in tandem tend both to reconstruct the manner in which they were created (thus Burke's "situation" and "strategic response"), and to provide a heuristically valuable dialogue for exploring critical points of convergence and divergence between progressive and "symbolist" interpretations. Fourth, the respective areas in which these works were produced offer a rich opportunity for frontier investigation in American scholarship. They have provided sensitive screens on which varying images of "reality" have been projected, and they have also served as laboratories for testing interpretations of man interacting with his world. Recent historiographic debate has been perhaps richest on the age of Jackson, (16) and both progressive and revisionist interpretations have received persuasive support from such respected scholars as Schlesinger and Dixon Ryan Fox on the former side and Benson and Marvin Meyers on the latter. (l7)
The two works in social psychology have been added because 1) they may furnish conceptual breadth to historiographic dialogue by demonstrating how similar core issues have been handled in aligned fields, and 2) they supply conceptual depth to this study of perceptions of "reality" by focusing systematically on the human instrument of those perceptions-the individual personality. I should make clear now that this essay concentrates on historiography, using the personality material chiefly as illustrative. But I wish also to make clear my belief that by studying more carefully the human instrument of perception, we may enrich our understanding of the "frames of reference" which historians seem inevitably to employ. (l8)
Finally, the study concentrates on interaction between political beliefs and reality because I believe the grounding of the political in human power relationships makes it potentially the most controversial, and also the richest, area in which to investigate man's symbolic responses to dramatized and felt situations.
One final caveat. This study focuses on views of reality and makes no pretense to independent judgment on that reality-in Jacksonian America or in the world of Adorno and Smith et al.'s respondents. Though the division is of necessity artificial, yet for analytic purposes it is important here to separate political actuality from what engaged selves (and differently engaged scholars) made of that actuality. The concern here is for the selves, and their response to what they saw; others may debate whether or not they saw correctly.
Several surface similarities mark Schlesinger's Age of Jackson (1945) and Benson's Concept of Jacksonian Democracy (1961). Both focus on that era of fundamental transformation characterizing American civilization during the second fifth of the nineteenth century, both are concerned not simply to record events of that era but to interpret and judge them, both employ this period as a base to generalize to the whole of American history and indeed occasionally beyond America to universal human behavior.
Yet fundamental dissimilarities continually arise amid points of commonality. Basic differences are implied in their titles-Schlesinger sees "the age of Jackson" as a substantial historical entity; it is capable of being clearly defined and delimited in his perception. Benson, on the other hand, studies not so much the age itself, but rather tests the historians' symbols which have given the age its traditional name.
Even before we reach the body of their works, another obvious distinction emerges. The Age of Jackson is prefaced with a quotation from George Bancroft, a statement which universalizes Schlesinger's particular purpose in his book:
The feud between the capitalist and laborer, the house of Have and the house of Want, is as old as social union, and can never be entirely quieted; but he who will act with moderation, prefer fact to theory, and remember that every thing in this world is relative and not absolute, will see that the violence of the contest may be stilled.
Benson "universalizes" his purpose with a quotation from William Blake:
He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars: General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite & flatterer, For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars....
These prefacing quotations highlight differences in thrust of the two works. For they suggest that Schlesinger intends to concentrate his energies on proving the moral worth of the Jacksonian approach to democratic politics, whereas Benson's work will be concentrated on discovering focal areas for detailed testing of historical concepts. The one wishes to root his work in the age's bedrock realities, realities which to him provide a physical and moral microcosm for the human species, the other wishes to test hypotheses about the age, and, finally, about the human species also.
Schlesinger's vision sweeps over the entire era, reflected through the lens of Jacksonian progressivism. It is that lens, he believes, which allows him to see the fundamental realities of the age clearly and directly, cutting through the haze of rhetoric and self-interest thrown up by the anti-Jacksonians. Benson's focus, however, is on assumptions about the age, viewed through the filter of New York state, which he self-consciously chooses as his geographical base for testing the progressive concept of Jacksonian democracy. The latter thus assumes an intervening variable--historians' concepts--between the perceiving mind and the perceived "reality.'' He employs various analytic tools, drawn mainly from the social sciences, to make that variable as explicit and precise as possible.
Schlesinger's particular perspective is political; he is vitally concerned with the distribution of human power relationships, and he is vitally disturbed when he feels they are out of balance. His central focus, on emergent industrialism, is dramatized by its impact on these relationships.
The impact of the new industrialism in the Northern and
Middle states, and particularly of the capitalist
organization of what had been journeyman industries,
produced [a] contagion of discontent. Some workingmen were
disquieted by the gradual loss of ownership over their
means of production, others by their separation from direct
contact with the market, others by the disappearance of any
feeling of social or economic equality with the moneyed
groups, still others simply by the physiological strain of
adjusting to new habits of work
and discipline . . .
Shut off from the rest of society, they began to develop a
consciousness of class, which helped them recover a sense
of human functions in a social order that baffled them by
its growing impersonality.
Shut off from the rest of society, they began to develop a consciousness of class, which helped them recover a sense of human functions in a social order that baffled them by its growing impersonality.(19)
To Schlesinger, then, 1) there was a single, hard, substantial "reality" in the emerging industrialism of Jacksonian America, 2) this reality was most directly and harshly felt in the urban East and 3) it occasioned, from just, thinking and "humble" men, a more or less unified set of responses which "the struggles of the thirties hammered together into a kind of practical social philosophy." Reacting against the self-interested and thus anti-democratic American System of the Whigs, these responses "restated fundamentally the presuppositions of American political life." (20)
This hard, substantial reality caused a number of fundamental polarities to be formed in the American polity-East v. West, progress v. the status quo, laborer v. capitalist and, finally and most fundamentally, "the people" v. "the interests." Andrew Jackson spoke for the people; his enemies-Henry Clay, Nicholas Biddle, Daniel Webster-for the interests.
Jackson, Schlesinger asserts, held a "deepening belief that the economic problem, the balance of class power, overshadowed all other quest lions of the day." Thus to Schlesinger the President became the symbol of heroic resistance to those who would either ignore or escape this overriding reality of the era, or who would employ their limited understanding of that reality to further their own welfare at the expense of the public's. Jackson and his philosophy offered Schlesinger an unbeatable combination-he was for the people, and he spoke from and to the realities of the age. "The people called him," Schlesinger proclaims, "and he came, like the great folk heroes, to lead them out of captivity and bondage." (21) Schlesinger therefore detects Jackson's political image stamped upon the entire culture, signified most clearly in his six chapters on "Jacksonian Democracy as an Intellectual Movement," ". . . and the Law," ". . . and Industrialism," ". . . and Religion," ". . . and Utopia," ". . . and Literature."
Benson's focus, like Schlesinger's, is also on the political; but he tends to view politics in the context of culture, rather than culture in the context of politics. He sees an intermediate cultural level, the impact of the "transportation revolution," between the basically economic industrial revolution and the basically political American System. Employing W. W. Rostow's concept of the "take-off" stage into industrialization, Benson sees this transportation revolution as establishing basic cultural "situations" to which the various "strategies"-the American System, expanding economic enterprise, radical movements in politics and religion, rising social and economic aspirations, ethnocultural strains-then responded. Responses were not simply to the material situation, however, and are not to be judged in terms of a greater or lesser reflection of substantial "reality." Rather, to Benson they were refracted through a multitude of intervening filters-class and ethnocultural position, geographic location, political party membership, economic occupation, personal distinctiveness and, especially, through cultural values predating early nineteenth-century industrialization. Focusing particularly on the "Burned- Over District" in upstate New York, an area which had recently been opened by the Erie Canal and which responded by spawning Antimasonry and other radical movements in religion and politics, Benson's view here supplies an almost perfect re-creation of Burke's situation-response "symbolic action":
my hypothesis holds that the boom in transportation and the dynamic expansion of the economy acted as powerful stimulants to movements inspired by the egalitarian ideals of the Declaration of Independence. I do not contend that one-to-one relationships existed between the revolution in transportation and the rise in egalitarianism. But it is suggestive. (22)
Further contrasts are revealed in investigating attitudes toward political party structure and rhetoric. Following from the Bancroft quotation, Schlesinger perceives liberalism and conservatism as enduring tendencies in human nature and human society. Applying these universal categories to the age of Jackson, he detects a straight- line evolution from the manifest conservatism of the Federalists to the less candid conservatism of the Whigs. Both represented "the same interests in society, the same aspirations for power, the same essential economic policies. . . ." (23) And their basic moral thrust had been an anti-liberal and thus anti-democratic desire to advance their own substantial interests at the people's expense. Coming from a more "humble" background, however, Jacksonians had less substance to protect, and thus, not being defensive of self-interest, were directly in contact with the fundamental economic reality of the age. Property- owning Whigs, on the other hand, were blinded to this reality.
Benson's opening chapter queries, "Where did the Federalists go?"; and through detailed career-line analysis of leaders in both major parties, he concludes that no certain answer can be given. Some Federalists did become Whigs, others ardent Jacksonians. Benson further concludes that no basic difference in social and economic class background existed between major New York Democratic Party officials-Van Buren, Silas Wright, John Dix-and leaders of the New York Whig party-Thurlow Weed, William Seward, Horace Greeley. Both parties, he suggests, were led by more or less self-made men; differences between the two groups were not so much reflections of their substantial environment as individually- and socially- refracted responses to that environment.
Whereas Schlesinger explains the fight over the second National Bank as a classic battle in the enduring war between the interests and the people, Benson maintains that in New York the Jacksonian party fought the issue not progressively but negatively, as a "brilliant political counterattack." Beleaguered by radical attacks on their own banking monopolies, and responding to New York politics through the selective lens of their established power base in the state capitol, the Jacksonian Albany Regency discovered that progressive rhetoric might prove strategically useful, if it could be employed to divert attention away from their own entrenched power in New York to the nationally entrenched power of Mr. Biddle's Bank. Jackson's veto became for the Regency not a defense of workingmen so much as a manifesto of state rights. Their strategy, therefore, was to
jump on board the antimonopoly bandwagon, guide it down the state rights road, and crush the Monster in its Greek temple on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. To switch metaphors, the Regency adopted classic jiu jitsu principles in the 1832 campaign. They took firm hold upon the egalitarian arguments developed by the Antimasons and Working Men and tried to floor their opponents by turning against them the power of their own arguments. (24)
Benson further focuses his study of "symbolic" responses to substantial reality through content analysis. He subjects the 1844 New York state and national platforms of both Democratic and Whig parties to a detailed, 38-page study of attitudes, sentiments and symbols. He further concentrates and specifies rhetorical responses by systematically filtering them through six different categories-General and Specific Role of Government in a Democratic Republic, Character Self-Portrait, Official Image of Opponents and so on. His analysis reveals the following kaleidoscopic configuration of political sentiments:
Strong support of the negative liberal state
Separation of banking and government institutions
Defense of presidential power
"Manifest Destiny" in reoccupying Oregon and annexing Texas
Rhetorical defense of the American liberal tradition
Strong rhetorical support for "the people" and the Constitution
Strong support of the positive liberal state
Centralized government behind Clay's American System
Cooperation between banking and government institutions
Defense of legislative power
No mention of foreign policy
Rhetorical defense of religious piety
Strong rhetorical support for "the people" and the Constitution
Finally, Benson subjects to detailed investigation the two counties in New York with consistently the highest (Rockland) and the lowest (Chautauqua) Democratic Party support for the years 1826 to 1844. He employs Robert Merton's sociological concept of "negative reference groups" to explain that the strong support given the Jacksonian party by Rockland voters had little relation to present issues or policy stands. Rather, he maintains, the wealthy and reactionary Dutch farmers who controlled Rockland were doggedly maintaining a tradition of historic resistance to government interference in their own affairs, a tradition extending back over half a century to their strong opposition to the Federal Constitution of 1787. Assuming like Schlesinger that Whigs were simply latter-day Federalists, the Rockland County Dutch cast their votes not for Jacksonians but against the ghost of Alexander Hamilton. And, being "members of an ethnocultural group with a strong propensity for official community action to promote material and moral progress," (25) Chautauqua Protestants voted consistently against the entrenched Albany Regency, which itself opposed positive government action.
American history has been marked by recurrent swings of conservatism and liberalism. During the periods of inaction, unsolved social problems pile up till the demand for reform becomes overwhelming. Then a liberal government comes to power, the dam breaks and aflood of change sweeps away a great deal in a short time. (26)
Thus does Arthur Schlesinger Jr. distill the age of Jackson in the larger context of American history and the yet larger framework of collective human behavior. He sees the nation in alternating moods of cynicism, apathy, retrenchment and selfishness on the one side and hope, progressive activism, openness and altruism on the other. Jacksonian democracy was a movement of hope sandwiched between two contrary moods. Its major figure symbolized that hope, and his name justly signalizes the meaning of that age.
Lee Benson does not so much reject the entire interpretation outright as he does accept here, revise there, ask for specificity and variability here, reject there. He believes that, in New York state at least, predominant rhetorical responses to the age were neither pro- nor anti-Jackson, but rather non-Jackson.
To Benson, therefore, Jackson's was but one among a number of political responses to a pervasive cultural transformation, and a response which, in New York, tended to resist this transformation at its most substantial level in the economy while supporting it mainly on the level of political rhetoric. Benson thus concludes by 1) rejecting the concept "Age of Jackson" and tentatively substituting "Age of Egalitarianism" and 2) calling on fellow inquirers to subject both his and the traditional interpretation to increasingly detailed (and methodologically self-conscious) investigation.
Like the two works in history just reviewed, The Authoritarian Personality (1950) and Opinions and Personality (1956) are informed by several common purposes. Both are depth probes into the inner workings of human personality, both set out to be intensive (in charting functions of the individual personality) rather than extensive (in attempting to study certain psychological traits in the population at large), both focus on that personality as it interacts with the political world around it, and both are primarily concerned with beliefs formed in that interaction. But their opposing perceptions of "reality" radically affect the way they proceed.
The former study was launched in May 1944, when a research program was outlined "which would enlist scientific method in the cause of seeking solutions" (27) to the problem of anti- Semitism. The authors originally devised a scale to measure anti- Semitism, then expanded to test ethnocentrism and politico-economic conservatism also. Finding that subjects' responses among these scales had high inter- correlation, the authors finally extended the focus of the study from anti- Semitism as such to the "potentially anti- democratic personality." And they devised an F, or fascism, scale to measure "implicit fascist tendencies" in their respondents.
From there the study became a massive series of efforts to analyze the implicitly fascist, or "authoritarian," personality, employing a variety of different techniques. A total of 2,099 individuals were given one or more of the scale questionnaires, and 150 of the "highs" and "lows" on authoritarianism were given detailed interviews. Almost a thousand pages of text and 123 tables and charts record and interpret the imposing results, and well over a score of investigators were required to carry out the project.
Research for Opinions and Personality, on the other hand, was focused mainly on face-to-face contact between the respondents and the senior members of the project. This was possible because the researchers chose to study only ten individuals, each of whom was subjected to 28 different procedures inquiring into his personal and cultural background, his interests and abilities, his political attitudes and so forth. These procedures, more than half various depth interviews, consumed for each subject some 15 weekly, two-hour meetings.
The authors' psychological focus on political opinions emerging from the interviews is similar to Kenneth Burke's sociological focus on "symbolic action" emerging from literature. Opinions and Personality, indeed, begins in similar fashion to The Philosophy of Literary Form:
Of what use to a man are his opinions? It is with this question that we choose to open our inquiry. A pattern of opinions may be for one man a basis of personal serenity in the face of a changing world, for another a goad to revolutionary activity. Opinions, in short, are part of man's attempt to meet and to master his world. They are an integral part of his personality. (28)
Though the authors disclaim any major theoretical impetus for the book, they seem to be testing the assumption, an assumption held firmly by the Adorno authors, of a one-to- one relationship between political opinions and underlying personality traits (thus, liberals having flexible and open personalities, conservatives inflexible and closed ones and so on). Like Lee Benson, Smith et al. are concerned with testing a traditional, and in this case also a progressive, attitude about human interaction with the world. Respondents' attitudes toward Russia were employed as the base from which to test the functions of political opinions.
The two works diverge on the question, "Are political opinions rationally formulated?" The Authoritarian Personality adopts a classic rationalist stance. That is, it assumes a potential and desirable, if not always an actual, one- to-one correspondence between mind and the external world.
The function of an opinion, then, is to reflect the world as it really is, All the measuring instruments were designed to flush out those whose opinions failed to reflect that real world; they were the ones who scored "high" on the questionnaires-the prejudiced, the conservative, the authoritarian, those whose "judgments and interpretations of fact are distorted by psychological urges." (29)
Despite the Freudian psychoanalytic framework used by the Adorno authors, they have little brief for human irrationality. Instead, their perception of reality as substantially real, and thereby self- evident to any unbiased observer, occasions impatience with respondents whose beliefs fail to reflect that reality.
It is hard to distinguish between simple ignorance and confusedness [sic], that is to say, between the state of simply not knowing the facts, and the state which exists when people without sufficient intellectual training grow muddle-headed under the incessant attack of all kinds of mass communication and propaganda and do not know what to make of the facts they have. It seems as if confusion were the effect of ignorance: as if those who do not know but feel somehow obliged to have political opinions, because of some vague idea about the requirements of democracy, help themselves with scurrilous ways of thinking and sometimes with forthright bluff. (30)
As opposed to this implicit rationalist stance of the Adorno authors, Smith et al. adopt an explicit functionalist one. They expect that opinions will be clothed in emotion and personal adjustive strategies, whereas the Adorno authors often deplore this fact. "One might ask what chance an opinion has of being well grounded in fact when it serves no function in the economy of personal adjustment. When there is really nothing at stake one learns little, remembers less, and very likely forms no opinion at all." For them, therefore, the "human factor" inevitably intervenes between mind and the external world; and, like Benson, they evaluate beliefs not as rational or irrational, but assume them to be filtered through rationality regionalized. What appears as irrational to the external critic may be simply the result of limited or differing experiences. Smith et al. thus perceive beliefs as clothed in personal experiences, not in general according to our lights, but the lights may be dim indeed." (31)
In personally observing their subjects responding in the interviews, Smith et al. offer empirical support for Burke's contention that men form "strategies" to respond to perceived "situations."
When one looks carefully at the verbatim transcript of an interview in which a man is discussing his opinions of some matter that interests him, one notes a series of testings [read Burke's "symbolic action"] of the conformance of expressed opinions both with deeper and more general values and with available information. Insofar as the person is in the habit of thinking aloud, so to speak, the process is the more noticeable. We may assume that the same process goes on continuously in the course of dealing with the environment. (32)
Distinctions between the two perceptions are perhaps sharpest in their respective handling of interview material. Here is a critical litmus test of how each team of researchers perceives the individual personality reacting or responding to his environment.
Contrasts show up in the interviewers themselves. In The Authoritarian Personality, interviewers remain anonymous. Senior members of the project refrained from face-to- face contact with respondents at that stage, to avoid biasing their judgments. Interviewers were given some leeway with the subjects, but were required to cover most general points in a detailed Interview Schedule, a schedule broken down into six main categories with from ten to 25 questions under each category. Then the interview transcripts were turned over to "blind" raters, this time two members of the staff, who further broke down the responses in terms of "High," "Low" or "Neutral" reactions to some sixty main categories and 28 further subcategories-almost ninety in all. These ratings were then correlated with responses to the questionnaires; then the senior authors used all the materials for their interpretive remarks.
Most of the interviewing in Opinions and Personality, in contrast, was done personally by the senior authors, who maintain that "the interviewer himself can be used . . . to provide a challenge . . . to be used for probing a respondent's opinions." (33) In Burke's terms, the interviewers designed the "situations," then observed how the interviewee framed "adjustive" strategies in his "symbolic response." The large- scale and impersonal nature of the Adorno study prohibited that type of direct encounter between student and studied.
In their interpretive remarks, the Adorno authors use respondents' comments not within the context of their own interviews, but as illustrative of general categories. This is especially true of T. W. Adorno's four chapters on "Qualitative Studies of Ideology." (34) There each individual comment is interpreted and judged through the light of a particular categorical tendency. By reading a single negative response of one individual toward labor unions, for example, Adorno feels qualified to revise the first-hand estimate of him made by his interviewer:
M202, a construction engineer, scoring generally very low, is nevertheless strongly identified with the entrepreneurs. His interviewer . . . called him "a person who is conservative but not fascist." His invectives against labor, however, make this evaluation appear to be a little too optimistic. (35)
Using these categories to evaluate not only individuals but the world of political reality beyond, Adorno moves back and forth between one and the other, checking and judging their relative degree of correspondence. Of M345, a radar field engineer who confused political categories by comparing the radical Comintern, the liberal CIO and Hitler's reactionary Mein Kampf on their attitudes toward international organization, Adorno remarks, "The mix-up of Comintern, CIO and Mein Kampf is the appropriate climate for panic and subsequent violent action." (36)
Smith et al., however, discover that such fluid mixing of categories seems the rule rather than the exception with their respondents. For them, the configuration of patterns distinctive within each personality is more basic than the relative correspondence of separate categories with the world beyond. Each individual, they find, responded to Russia "not . . . as a political entity but as a psychic entity, one man's Russia." (37) John Chatwell, for example, perceived Russia positively as an interesting experiment in planned social change and negatively as a deplorable police state; Charles Lanlin saw Russia as an absolutely evil, bumptious nation causing incessant chaos in the world; Hillary Sullivan saw his Russia as a creative new hope for mankind; Ernest Daniel's was most admirable in its concern for human welfare; Sam Hodder's an indecent and vicious irritant in an otherwise benign world; Clarence Clark's a rather distant threat because of its greed and atheism, and so on.
These fundamental perceptual differences are crystallized and highlighted by the authors' concluding remarks on interview results, quoted below. These contrasting responses provide a fitting conclusion to the analytic part of this study, illuminating basic differences between an implied model which sees opinions as reflecting reality and a model which sees them as strategically encountering realities.
The reason for the persistent plausibility of the
typological approach . . . Is not a static biological one,
but just the opposite: dynamic and social. The relative
rigidity of our high scorers, and some of our low scorers,
reflects psychologically the increasing rigidity according
to which our society falls into two more or less crude
opposing camps.... There is reason to look for
psychological types because the world in which we live is
typed and "produces" different "types" of persons.
The reason for the persistent plausibility of the typological approach . . . Is not a static biological one, but just the opposite: dynamic and social. The relative rigidity of our high scorers, and some of our low scorers, reflects psychologically the increasing rigidity according to which our society falls into two more or less crude opposing camps.... There is reason to look for psychological types because the world in which we live is typed and "produces" different "types" of persons.(38)
Smith et al.: we do well to think of a man's attitudes as his major equipment for dealing with reality. This equipment is not a product solely of basic needs and defenses nor is it fashioned directly according to the blue- print of the world in which the person finds himself. Nor is it simply borrowed ready-made from the groups to which he belongs or aspires. Something of all of these but not quite any of them, it is, essentially, an apparatus for balancing the demands of inner functioning and the demands of the environment. One cannot predict a man's opinions by knowledge of his personality alone or of his environment alone. Both must enter into any predictive formula. (39)
The question now arises: What generalizations about progressive and "symbolist" perceptions of political reality may validly be drawn from this study? The response must be: Few, if by generalizations we mean documented proof that the views analyzed here are widely characteristic of progressive or revisionist scholarship. No evidence at all has been presented that other works in the new scholarship share the qualities here termed "symbolist," though my impressions suggest that several do. And though the evidence is more reliable that Schlesinger and Adorno do typify major themes in progressive scholarship, that evidence as offered here is largely impressionistic also.
The study's restricted base thus inhibits confident generalizing. Rather than draw tentative lines in that direction, however, I prefer at this point to capitalize further on the distinctive opportunities of the case study approach. If the sample is too small for valid generalizing beyond it, that makes it even more useful for creating hypotheses within it. Its narrow base may cause question of its representativeness, but that very size enhances its analytic "purity" and thus its heuristic richness.
I should now like to generate a few of these hypotheses, moving through the evidence of these four books but occasionally reaching beyond. I have used the unqualified terms "progressive" and "symbolist" and have purposely highlighted extremes of contrast as a means of sharpening differences between the two types of perception. It goes without saying that there are also many similarities; but they are not the concern of this study.
What I am most desirous of building here are a few foundation blocks for the creation of ideal type "progressive" and "symbolist" points of view. These ideal types may be used as working models in subsequent inquiry. (40) Further studies, then, may better enable us to detect what is restricted to any one or combination of these four and what more generally characterizes progressive or symbolist views of "reality." Intending this essay as a contribution to theory in progress, I encourage other inquirers to "correct" the "exaggerations" which follow.
View of Functioning Society. Progressives view a functioning society as a polity, and their focal concern is with the distribution of human power relationships. Symbolists, on the other hand, see a functioning society as a culture, and their locus of concern is with responses of individuals and groups to those issues which the culture (and its various subcultures) defines as important. To progressives, the real is the political and economic; the unreal is the psychological, the philosophical, the literary (unreal, that is, to the extent that they fail to respond directly to the political and the economic). For Schlesinger and Adorno et al., therefore, to be nonpolitical is to be anti-political. Their term "anti-democratic," when so often employed as a pejorative label, implies a compression of experience into a primarily political mold.
View of Mind-Reality Encounter. Schlesinger and Adorno et al. imply that a nation's experience is fundamentally a unity, conveying a number of self-evident truisms from the basis of a single and substantial "reality." Individuals, at least those meriting favorable judgment, are supposed to reflect this reality. For Adorno et al. particularly, and Schlesinger to a lesser degree, the individual is either aware of reality or he is not. Departures from full awareness are interpreted as irrational psychological and/or moral aberrations. While both do acknowledge the "strategic" nature of some beliefs, they deplore the fact that humans should so interfere with the progress of "reality."
For Benson and Smith et al., on the other hand, the individual does not so much reflect the world, as he refracts his selectively-perceived environment. Their model is a spectrum rather than a mirror. They therefore maintain that the external world is the raw material which the human being uses to shape (not fully according to his own purposes, but not quite according to its either) into that which can be understood, communicated with, manipulated. For Schlesinger and Adorno et al., substantial reality is the shaping agent and the human being the raw material.
Schlesinger and Adorno et al. see a potential one-to-one correspondence between man, his opinions and the world. Knowing the opinion, one knows the man, and, if the man and his opinion are correct, one knows also the world. Begin at any point in the triad and one should be able to move directly to the other two. Benson and Smith et al., however, see several intermediate environments between man and opinion and the world. They do not search for cause- effect relations among the three so much as they view each level in context and interaction. Though both Benson and Smith et al. employ the methods of social science extensively, this contextual rather than causal view of opinions tends toward a "literary" rather than a traditional scientific metaphysic.
Benson and Smith et al. identify each opinion as to its time and place and background, and particularly its "strategic" function. Their focus is on opinions within a complete party platform, a complete interview- and in the context of the platform or interview's historic background, its author(s), his particular strategies and so on. Their concern is thus with the structure of beliefs, whereas Schlesinger and Adorno et al. focus on content. The latter tend to lift statements from context, analyzing and judging them by their relative correspondence with the world beyond, rather than by their strategic function in the mind and situation of the expresser.
Rhetorical and Substantial "Reality." Symbolists maintain a greater distance between rhetorical and substantial reality than do progressives. Schlesinger, for example, either sees rhetoric as containing true descriptions of substantial reality, or he discounts it as false. Ambiguous staternents are products of confused minds; and those who strategically "use" reality are to be deplored, unless like President Jackson they are forced to do so for a humane cause. Similarly, the Adorno authors believe they can detect potential fascism by dealing exclusively with opinions, without studying any actual fascist personalities or fascist movements. Adorno, for example, declaims that "The man who bangs his fist on the table and complains about heavy taxation is a 'natural candidate' for totalitarian movements." (41)
Perceiving beliefs as strategic, however, Benson and Smith et al. see them responding in several different ways to possible consequences-in one situation they may serve as guides and stimulants to action, in another as means of avoiding action and in yet another as a way of simply ordering information with no thought given to possible action. Further more, Smith et al. claim that an opinion loses much of its contextual richness when compressed into a policy stand. To Adorno et al. the policy stand is causal and the opinion is determined by it; an opinion is simply a tendency toward overt action. For Smith et al., however, an opinion is symbolic action; and when it remains on the symbolic level, it is more complex and more revealing of basic personality dynamics than when it is compressed into overt action.
The Nature of Ideas. Despite theoretical roots of progressive scholarship in "anti-formalist" organicism, (42) and despite the fact that the term "symbolist" traditionally connotes the attributing of causal power to ideas, evidence from these works tends to confuse if not reverse that interpretation.
For these symbolists interpret all beliefs as radically human; and though their focus is generally on ideas, they view them as arising from. specific human and organic circumstances. Their symbolism is thus not transcendental, but emerges inductively from their evidence. Schlesinger and Adorno et al. likewise see ideas as emerging from organic circumstances; but they are the most general ones of owning or not owning property, or of being psychologically healthy or ill. Particularly when they employ the progressive idea, its organic referents seem vague and incidental. Schlesinger's "workingmen" and Adorno's "Genuine Liberals" do not emerge inductively from their evidence, but are rhetorically deduced from their categories. (43)
Categories and Individuals. Lionel Trilling has written in The Liberal Imagination that Americans "conceive ideas to be pellets of intellection or crystallizations of thought, precise and completed.... " (44) Such an attitude appears to characterize these two progressive works. In the ancient nominalist-realist debate, it would appear that progressives paradoxically (in view of their previously-noted organicist roots) tend to perceive categories and ideas as real, whereas these symbolists see them as nominal and hypothetical.
Despite their overt assumption of a single bedrock reality, Schlesinger and Adorno et al. appear to view the world of men and ideas in a universe of floating categories. Conservatism, Liberalism, Fascism, Jacksonian Democracy, Federalism-these are real entities, self- evident and clearly delineated in the world of their perceptions. As symbolists, Benson and Smith et al. have not simply substituted alternative categories for the progressive ones, but have concerned themselves with the process of categorizing itself.
Consonant with their view of reality as hypothetical as well as substantial, symbolists have devoted considerable time to the problem of focus in their works. To them, the world does not do its own focusing; so men must self- consciously set up their own categories for understanding, communicating, judging, acting. (45) For Schlesinger and Adorno et al. the world establishes its own categories; individuals must recognize them and adjust accordingly.
Few attempts were made by either Schlesinger or Adorno et al. to discover why, in their own terms, conservatives or "authoritarians" perceive the world the way they do, or whether their perceptions might be based upon their actual, if perhaps limited, experience. If one disliked Andrew Jackson, liked the Second National Bank, disliked Jews or Negroes or the New Deal, then he was ipso facto distorting reality to conform with and protect his own economic or psychological self-interest. (46)
While both progressives overtly affirm the human personality as integral and organic, they seem implicitly to deny the distinctiveness of any individual, or historic, phenomenon. Rather, individuals appear to "lock in" on certain categories and are identified by them. And a locking in on a single category in a logical cluster-say anti-Semitism-seems to be a locking in on all the remainder-anti-Negro, anti-New Deal, anti-Russia, anti- labor union, anti-science, anti-progressivism, anti- democracy. Both progressives thus allege individual motives on the basis of statistical or deductive categories; knowing the belief, they can predict and judge the motive behind it. Thus Adorno's continual "He is a typical example of . . . ." or "He would tend to. . . ."
These symbolists, on the other hand, see the individual as a Gestalt, (47) composed of general characteristics but combining these characteristics into a unique configuration. "Locking in" is done by the category and not by individuals; the personality, not the categories, performs the task of clustering. Smith et al.'s John Chatwell, for example, was an advocate of traditional nineteenth-century government laissez faire but favored the TVA and federal aid to education, completely disagreed with the Communist Party but "felt strongly" that it should not be outlawed in the United States, was antagonistic to Communist imperialism yet believed the United States should surrender part of its sovereignty to the United Nations.
Locus of Judgment. A close relationship exists between perceptions of political reality and locus of judgment among these four authors. Schlesinger's and Adorno's judgments are forthright and clear, for example, because they feel that immediate action is necessary to protect democracy in America.
The Adorno authors particularly are informed by a vivid sense of impending crisis. "So great is the over-all fascist potential that any withdrawal on any front might make it even more difficult than it now is for groups discriminated against to secure their rights." Their political universe appears divided between pro- and anti- fascists, with a crusade about to be launched by those who "stand for democracy" against those who fall for fascism. Their enemies, they insist, are the pseudo-democrats, who are compelled "to protect a mythical 'Americanism' which bears no resemblance to what is most vital in American history." It is therefore imperative, they maintain, that "science . . . provide weapons against the potential threat of the fascist mentality." (48)
Schlesinger's judgments derive not so much from a sense of alarm as from a vision of liberalism beleaguered. The Age of Jackson is a vivid drama of progressive rise and fall-opening with ridicule of the old order, moving to the battle of the old v. the new, proceeding to the triumphant ascendancy of the new, and ending with the disintegration of liberalism under overpowering forces of reaction and opportunism. A concluding chapter on "Traditions of Democracy" identifies the American liberal tradition and calls imagined readers to its defense.
Especially in his chapter on "Jacksonian Democracy and Literature," Schlesinger expresses mounting impatience with those who entertain liberal sentiments but refuse to engage actively in institutionalizing them. Of Fourierists and Transcendentalists, he remarks, "All the prose about brotherhood and the pretty experiments in group living made no conservative sleep less easily at night." Emerson, who "had little idea of the significance of the struggles of the eighteen-thirties," and Thoreau, whom Schlesinger admires for his courageous independence but who nonetheless "said Nay to the claims of democracy," were both unwilling to "wear out body and spirit in . . . grapplings with overmastering reality." Both are finally rejected in favor of the buoyant, activist optimism of Walt Whitman, whose "impulse . . . was healthier for the social state." (49)
Benson and Smith et al. have no such political message for their readers. The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy and Opinions and Personality are impelled by no sense of impending crisis, nor of the necessity of practical action to avert democratic collapse. Instead, they seem to assume an almost game-playing attitude toward their materials and their subjects, delighting in the study itself rather than viewing it as instrumental to some form of overt action.
As a result, the political reality perceived by the symbolists is polydimensional and multi-leveled whereas that of the progressives appears as one- or at the most two-dimensional.
Lionel Trilling wrote in 1949,
So far as liberalism is active and positive, so far, that is, as it moves toward organization, it tends to select the emotions and qualities that are most susceptible of organization. As it carries out its active and positive ends it unconsciously limits its view of the world to what it can deal with, and it unconsciously tends to develop theories and principles, particularly in relation to the nature of the human mind, that justify its limitation. (50)
These symbolists, it seems, have expanded their conception of the human mind beyond that of the progressives, and consequently perceive a political reality not simply different, but of a different order, from that in progressive scholarship. As a result, they seem implicitly to be heeding Trilling's call for a political vision probing to the "first essential imagination of variousness and possibility, which implies the awareness of complexity and difficulty." (51) And as a result also, they have perceived the individual's encounter with "reality" in a manner approximating that in the literary culture, thus offering implied opportunities for frontier studies between the social sciences and literature. Such is one of the consequences of "symbolism" in recent American scholarship.
1 Vernon L. Parrington's progressive Main Currents in American Thought received the largest number of votes from a representative sample of American historians as the "most preferred" work in American history published between 1920 and 1935, and Merle Curti's progressive Growth of American Thought was similarly supported for the years 1936 to 1950. In the earlier period, Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier in American History ranked second and Charles and Mary Beard's Rise of American Civilization fourth. In the latter period, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s Age of Jackson was tied for fourth. See John Caughey, "Historians' Choice: Results of a Poll on Recently Published American History and Biography," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XXXIII (Sept. 1952), 289-302.
2 "The Emergence of Progressive History," Journal of the History of Ideas, XXVII (Jan.-Mar. 1966), 110-12.
3 Morton White, Social Thought in America: The Revolt against Formalism (rev. ed.; Boston, 1957); Christopher Lasch, The New Radicalism in America: The Intellectual as a Social Type, 1889-1963 (New York, 1965); Henry May, The End of American Innocence: A Study of the First Years of 0ur Own Time, 1912-1917 (New York, 1959); David Noble, The Paradox of Progressive Thought (Minneapolis, 1958); Louis Hartz, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York, n.d.) Lee Benson, Turner and Beard: American Historical Writing Reconsidered (New York, 1965); Cushing Strout, The Pragmatic Revolt in American History: Carl Bucker and Charles Beard (Ithaca, N. Y., 1966); Arthur Ekirch, "Parrington and the Decline of American Liberalism, American Quarterly, III (Winter 1951), 295-308; Robert Skotheim, American Intellectual Histories and Historians (Princeton, 1966); David Noble, Historians against History: The Frontier Thesis and the National Covenant in American Historical Writing (Minneapolis, 1965); Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F.D.R. (New York, 1960); Lee Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case (New York, 1963); Alexander and Juliette George, Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study (New York, 1964).
4 "Beyond Consensus: The Historian as Moral Critic," American Historical Review, LXVIII (Apr. 1962), 616.
5 American Historical Review, LXVIII, 609.
6 "Some Comments on Recent United States Historiography," American Quarterly, XVIII (Summer 1965), 299-318.
7 Crowe, Journal of History of Ideas, XXVII, 123.
8 For other commentaries on the newer histories, see J. Rogers Hollingsworth, "Consensus and Continuity in Recent American Historical Writing," South Atlantic Quarterly, LXI (Winter 1962), 40-50; Robert Skotheim, "'Innocence' and 'Beyond Innocence' in Recent American Scholarship," American Quarterly, XIII (Spring 1961), 93-99; Dwight Hoover, "From Clio with Love," American Quarterly, XVIII (Spring 1966), 104-8; John Higham, ed., The Reconstruction of American History (New York, 1962); Higham et al., History. Humanistic Scholarship in America: The Princeton Studies (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1965); Charles Sellers, "Andrew Jackson versus the Historians," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XLIV (Mar. 1958), 615-34; Allen David and Harold Woodman, eds., Conflict or Consensus in American History (Boston, 1966).
9 The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action (rev. ed.; New York, 1957), p. 3.
10 Ibid., p. 262.
12 Ibid. pp. 9, 30-31.
13 This is particularly true of The Age of Jackson and The Authoritarian Personality. Virtually all subsequent research in each area has used these works as starting points. For critiques of the original works, plus reviews of subsequent research on their respective areas, see, for Schlesinger, John William Ward, "The Age of the Common Man," in Higham, Reconstruction, pp. 82-97; and Sellers, MVHR, XLIV, 615-34. For Adorno, see Richard Christie and Marie Jahoda, eds., Studies in the Scope and Method of "The Authoritarian Personality" (Glencoe, Ill., 1954); and Nevitt Sanford, "The Approach of the Authoritarian Personality," in J. L.. McCary, ed., Psychology of Personality (New York, 1956), pp. 253- 319.
14 Because of its restricted focus, any case study may be subject to the charge of being "unrepresentative." But to speak of the representativeness of these works at this stage is perhaps premature. The discipline of history lacks the tools of precise weighting to be able to designate certain views as representative or unrepresentative. And even if it did possess such tools, we lack enough detailed information on the newer works to be able to use them effectively. The Schlesinger and Adorno studies are sufficiently informed by a progressive '"Gestalt,' to make their designation stick. Whether the manner in which they employ that Gestalt is typically progressive cannot now be established. This essay reflects that we lack even clear categories for ordering our understanding of the newer works. "Revisionist" is acceptable, and safe enough, but it tells us little. "Conservative" is still a pejorative within the profession, and its meaning is too ambiguous to make it operative. "Consensus" is only slightly less so. The term "symbolist" within this essay is I trust fairly precise, but nonetheless limited to Kenneth Burke's special usage. And it is further restricted to only a single dimension of the newer scholarship- its perception of political "reality." More important than choosing representative works or fixing appropriate labels, however, is now the detailed highlighting of tendencies, particularly contrasts, in the two viewpoints. Subsequently, we can document empirically how widespread these tendencies are. Here the concern, then, is to create working models for later scholarship These working models, or "ideal types," are more fully delineated in the essay's concluding remarks.
15 See Benson's section on "Identifying Areas of American Political Agreement," in Concept, pp. 272-77.
16 John Higham has remarked that the three areas where the new interpretation has been most fully tested are Puritanism, Jacksonian democracy and the twentieth-century progressive tradition. See "The Construction of American History," in his Reconstruction, p. 21.
17 Marvin Meyers' The Jacksonian Persuasion or John William Ward's Andrew Jackson: Symbol for an Age might seem even more appropriate for a study of this sort for both focus directly on ideas and symbols, whereas to Benson they are of lesser concern. But Meyers and Ward appear to be more or less consciously applying the Burkean-type of interpretation, whereas Benson seems to discover it, employing it pragmatically as a means of ordering his primarily statistical data. He thus provides a more valid "test" of the Burkean theory, since he did not set out consciously to use it. The same appears true of the authors of Opinions and Personality.
18 For evidence of increasing awareness within the profession of these "frames of reference," see esp. Sellers. See also Skotheim, American Intellectual Histories; Benson, Concept; Strout, Pragnatic Revolt.
19 The Age of Jackson (Boston, 1945), p. 32.
20 Ibid., pp. 306, 267.
21 Ibid., pp. 59, 43
22 Benson, Concept, p. 13.
23 Schlesinger, p. 279.
24 Benson, p. 55.
25 Adapted from Benson, pp. 219-27 and 237-42, p. 313.
26 Schlesinger, p. 391.
27 Max Horkheimer and Samuel Flowerman, Preface to T. W. Adorno et al., The Authoritarian Personality (New York, 1950), p. vi.
28 M. Brewster Smith, Jerome S. Bruner, Robert W. White, Opinions and Personality (New York, 1964), p. 1.
29 Adorno et al., p. 240.
30 Ibid., p. 659.
31 Smith et al., pp. 70, 265.
32 1bid., p. 45.
331bid., p. 286.
34 Adorno et al., pp. 603-783. These four chapters-- "Prejudice in the Interview Material," "Politics and Economics in the Interview Material," "Some Aspects of Religious Ideology as Revealed in the Interview Material," "Types and Syndromes"--provide the clearest expression of fundamental attitudes toward political "reality" to be found in The Authoritarian Personality.
35 Ibid., p. 707.
36 Ibid., p. 724.
37 Smith et al., p. 247.
38 Adorno et al., p. 747.
39 Smith et al., p. 39.
40 See Max Weber, The Methodology of the Social Sciences (Glencoe, Ill., 1949), pp. 89-112, for a useful discussion of ideal type construction. Particularly relevant is the following passage:
An ideal type is formed by the one-sided accentuation of one or more points of view and by the synthesis of a great many diffuse, discrete, more or less present and occasionally absent concrete individual phenomena, which are arranged according to those one-sidedly emphasized viewpoints into a unified analytical construct. . . . In its conceptual purity, this mental construct . . . cannot be found empirically anywhere in reality. It is a utopia. Historical research faces the task of determining in each individual case, the extent to which this ideal-construct approximates to or diverges from reality, to what extent, for example, the economic structure of a certain city is to be classified as a "city- economy." (p. 90)
Special care must be taken to keep this mental construct an ideal type, not an ideal type. Its conceptual purity belongs more to creative game-playing than to moral or social reconstruction. No presumption is made that the world should be ordered in the manner that the mind finds it useful to order it for some specific analytic purpose. Used with imagination and restraint, however, ideal types can prove valuable, especially in areas where reliable categories have not yet been established.
41 Adorno et al., p. 716.
42 See Morton White's discussion of progressive social philosophy in his Social Thought in A merica.
43 See also Robert Skotheim's observation on twentieth- century progressive historiography, focused on Charles Beard: "When Beard interpreted ideas primarily as outgrowths of environmental factors . . . the ideas were usually ones for which Beard had little sympathy; he attributed causal force to ideas only when he was sympathetic to those ideas." "The Writing of American Histories of Ideas: Two Traditions in the XXth Century," Journal of the History of Ideas, XXV (Apr.-June 1964), 265.
44 The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society (Garden City, N. Y., 1957), p. 293. I have learned much from Trilling in formulating my ideas about assumptions concerning "reality." Particularly useful have been his two chapters "Reality in America," pp. 1-19 and "The Meaning of a Literary Idea," pp. 272-93.
45 Here the symbolists seem closely akin to the literary creator who builds his own fictional world as a means of ordering and expressing some slice of human experience. Indeed, relationships between ideal types in the scientific culture and fictional creations in the literary have not to my knowledge been adequately explored.
46 These assumptions are supported by their methods. For though both works are studded with detail, particularly quotations, rarely is a quotation of more than one paragraph, or a statement going in more than one direction, analyzed or even cited.
47 Since Benson's basic unit of analysis is the social group rather than the individual, it rather than the personality is the Gestalt. The same point applies, however; he sees each group with its own distinctive configuration of general categories, and concentrates his focus on the configuration rather than the categories.
48 Adorno et al., pp. 974, 816, 183, 748.
49 Schlesinger, pp. 368, 386, 388, 382, 390.
50 Trilling, Liberal Imagination, p. xi.
51 Ibid., p. xii.