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Twilight of the RepublicEmpire and Exceptionalism in the American Political Tradition$
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Justin B. Litke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813142203

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813142203.001.0001

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The Problem of American Exceptionalism

The Problem of American Exceptionalism

(p.5) 1 The Problem of American Exceptionalism
Twilight of the Republic

Justin B. Litke

University Press of Kentucky

The term American exceptionalism is far from univocal; much unnecessary confusion has resulted from various senses of the term being elided together by politicians and scholars alike. Clearing up the confusion by schematizing the term's most common senses, Litke sets the stage for the main theme of the book, what he calls “imperial American exceptionalism.” This most politically potent sense of the term is not at all the most common sense in the scholarly literature; far more common are comparative, empirical, social scientific treatments, although these are often used indiscriminately, side by side with more normative concerns and arguments. The insufficiency of the social scientific approach sets the stage for the propriety and necessity of political theory as the best tool for understanding American exceptionalism and what is at stake in the term and idea.

Keywords:   American exceptionalism, social science, Seymour Martin Lipset, Marxism, Tocqueville, myth, symbol, Eric Voegelin

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