Syndicalist liberalism: the normative economics of Herbert Croly

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This essay reevaluates the work of Herbert Croly, a central figure in American progressivism. Croly contests the thesis that the liberal tradition in the United States is inhospitable to anticapitalist alternatives, drawing from the American past a history of resistance to capitalist wage relations that is fundamentally liberal. This historical reconstruction guides his departure from progressivism. Croly reclaims an idea Progressives allowed to lapse -- that working for wages is a lesser form of liberty. Increasingly sceptical of social welfare legislation to remedy social ills, he argues that America's liberal promise can be redeemed only by syndicalist reforms involving workplace democracy.

Keywords: Herbert Croly; Liberalism; Progressivism; Syndicalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Loyola University Chicago, Dept. of Political Science, 6525 North Sheridan Road, Chicago IL 60626-5385. Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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