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The Critical, Conflicted, and Elitist Liberalism of Richard Hofstadter—And Why It Matters (Part 4)

The latter portions of Hofstadter’s assault on early and mid-twentieth-century educational tendencies also demonstrate, ironically, a run-of-the-mill reactionary liberalism. The general theme was that all Progressive Educators—from the earliest, most hopeful, and well-intentioned work of Dewey down to the saddest descendants of Dewey—was one of utopianism. They were all unrealistic. Being somewhat kinder to Dewey, Hofstadter asserted only that a “covert utopianism” existed in the latter’s thought (p. 388). In any case, the charge of utopianism is the ultimate cavil among intellectual elites, especially those of the liberal variety who know their history. It says to the reformer: “You don’t Read more