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Certainly in the USA Enlightenment values never became the popular norm.

The early American colonies, states were very egalitarian societies by historical norms:

VOX (June 16, 2016):

Colonial America was the most income-egalitarian rich place on the planet. Among all Americans - slaves included - the richest 1% got only 8.5% of total income in 1774. Among free Americans, the top 1% got only 7.6%. Today, the top 1% in the US gets more than 20% of total income. Colonial America looks even more egalitarian when the comparison is by region - in New England the income Gini co-efficient was 0.37, the Middle Atlantic was 0.38, and the free South 0.34. Today the US income Gini is more than 0.5, before taxes and transfers. Colonial America was also far less unequal than Western Europe. England and Wales in 1759 had an income Gini of 0.52,and in 1802 it was 0.59. Holland in 1732 had an income Gini of 0.61, and the Netherlands in 1909 had 0.56.  Also, if you agree with neo-institutionalists that economic equality fosters political equality, which fosters pro-growth policies and institutions, then America's huge middle class is certainly consistent with the young republic's pro-growth Hamiltonian stance from 1790 onwards. That is, the middle 40% of the distribution got fully 52.5% of total income in New England, the cradle of the revolution!

Weak social stratification could not decide the fate of Enlightenment values in the US.

Without overwhelming financial-industrial authorities yet, Enlightenment was basically claiming substantial authority in the early US. It was almost a dream case for Enlightenment values, except that great many humans were not inclined to give central authority to a set of novel abstract principles. Powerful drive for romanticism, "weird" religions emerged as opposition to the high-minded authority.

And that remains the issue for today as ever. Intellectual authority was never fully acknowledged. Speculation about reasons for that could be endless. But for a start, progressives have to acknowledge the reality that they had hardly earned any congruent authority. We may anxiously chuckle at authoritarian sentiments of Trump supporters, but to many brains of Homo Sapiens (i.e., a primate species) progressive reverence to Enlightenment values is just another case of authoritarian sentiment - no matter if the sought authority is abstract.

Recently Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted plainly that all policy making should be rationally based on evidence. It is worth to see a few critiques of that.

by das monde on Fri Jul 15th, 2016 at 04:37:27 AM EST
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