In A Tolerable Anarchy , Jedediah Purdy traces the history of the American understanding of freedom, an ideal that has inspired the country’s best—and worst—moments, from independence and emancipation to war and economic uncertainty. Working from portraits of famous American lives, like Frederick Douglas and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Purdy asks crucial questions about our relationship to liberty: Does capitalism perfect or destroy freedom? Does freedom mean following tradition, God’s word, or one’s own heart? Can a nation of individuals also be a community of citizens? This is history that speaks plainly to our lives today, urging readers to explore our understanding of our country and ourselves, and a provocative look at one of America’s cherished principles.
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|Title of Business & Economics eBook: A Tolerable Anarchy|
|Release Date: 03-03-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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A Tolerable Anarchy
c h a p t e r 3
War and Its Equivalents
One of the best pieces ever in The Onion, the satirical newspaper whose articles make up a parallel history of the last two decades, appeared just after September 11, 2001. It opened, “Feeling helpless in the wake of the horrible September 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands, Christine Pearson baked a cake and decorated it like an American flag Monday.” True to form, the article is lightly ironic as it traces the fictional Topeka legal secretary's rummage through her kitchen cabinets in a frenzy of distress and media saturation. It concludes, though, with a middle- American version of the “Yes” at the end of James Joyce's Ulysses as Pearson presents the confection to her neighbors:
“I baked a cake,” said Pearson, shrugging her shoulders and forcing a smile as she unveiled the dessert in the Overstreet household later that evening. “I made it into a flag.”
Pearson and the Overstreets stared at the cake in silence for nearly a minute, until Cassie hugged Pearson.
“It's beautiful,” Cassie said. “The cake is beautiful.”
That Onion piece better captures the mood of those weeks than the soaring and belligerent speeches of politicians. It spoke to a basic and powerful wish to be connected to others, to help heal rather than injure, to be on the side of good rather than let isolation make you neutral. And it recognized that the ways we try to do these things are often stumbling, awkward, easy to make fun of-even though making fun of them is not just cruel but also shoddy and trite, much more jejune than the attempts to do somethin