Because American industrial development generally resembled Europe’s, Hartz cast his exceptionalism thesis in strongly political and cultural terms.
What has differentiated politics in the U.S. are limits that have been imposed on economically induced political change by the agreement on liberal beliefs and practices.
Standard Critiques of Liberal Consensus Theory
The most common critique argues that the thesis seriously understated the extent and variability of class conflict and governmental interventions in the economy,
Hartz and Tocqueville did, after all, take for granted that widespread economic wealth was involved in sustaining the liberal character of American political thought.
Social pluralism and seperation of residence and workplace can be attributed at least in part to the openess and fluidity of a liberal society.
Implicit Metatheory of the Consensus Thesis
The consensus thesis is mainly concerned with the years near after the original settlement of America and there are three reasons why the thesis cannot be a causal explanation over the more extensive period.
1. The decisive causal factors took place in Europe and the thesis has little to say about these events or the causes that brought them about.
2. The thesis emphasizes continuity; it does not seek to explain political development nor is it concerned with the way one set of changes produced another set of changes.
3. Causal explanations must clearly distinguish between dependent and independent variables. The thesis attributes America’s persisting liberal culture to the liberal beliefs and practices of the original settlers. Beliefs and practices make up a culture, and the original liberalism of a culture cannot be a cause of its liberalism later on.