By Richard J. StillmanThe United States is commonly referred to as the last global superpower, exercising unrivalled political, economic, military and social influence. Yet, paradoxically, unlike any other nation, Americans were – and remain – radically antistatist. Until roughly the twentieth century the United States did not want, need, nor create a powerful administrative state to govern itself, let alone others abroad. This essay explores that peculiar paradox, namely how Americans govern as the last global superpower today, yet retain an inherently fierce hostility to government. The thesis that is developed argues that it is a deep-rooted reformist faith which ultimately shapes US statecraft as a unique style of reformcraft, with both benign and not-so benign consequences.
Public Administration Volume 81: Issue 1. ISSN: 0033-3298