A Dangerous Freedom

June 2017

by Bradford Smith. J. B. Lippincott Company. 303 pp. $3.95.

The great distinguishing mark of American life, says Mr. Smith, is the principle of voluntary association to gain a desired end. We are individualists, but we have an uncommon knack for working together, and it is this rather than a spirit of tooth-and-claw competition that is our greatest characteristic. This has meant, century after century, an increasing habit of getting together to get things done; Americans have always been “joiners,” and in the end that is why our democracy works so well. It is a dangerous freedom, perhaps, as de Tocqueville remarked, since it depends on the moral fiber of the citizens themselves. But Mr. Smith insists that it is a marvelously productive and promising freedom as well—that it is, indeed, the great thing America offers the world today.