by John Slifko
Plato, Aristotle, Baron Montesquieu, and Jean Jacques Rousseau argued that you could never have a democracy bigger than the geographic size, intimate oral habits, and embodied rituals of face-to-face communication, and walking distance of a Greek city-state, French town, or small Swiss city. However, in the years surrounding the 1776 American War of Independence and accelerating into the 1800s in the American northeast and mid-Atlantic, there was a significant cultural transformation in the transition from oral/aural cultures to an increasingly literate citizenry. A consequence of this transition was an expanded geographical range of democratic engagement. In this book, John Slifko argues that freemasonry was representative and played an important role in this transformation and helped articulate the moral imagination of an informed democratic citizenry via fast emerging worlds of print.
A metamorphosis occurred through worlds of print anchored at home in the routine lives of local community and transmission in space across networks of place. Communication and political participation were enhanced in early America through a growing range of print vehicles such as pamphlets, newspapers, declarations and books of all types concerned with ancient and modern learning. The formation of local civic associations and reading libraries further contributed to this growth of available print documents. This work examines the vital roles that freemasons played in this print transformation.
About the Author:
John Slifko (1950-2018) was an expert in the fields of Freemasonry and Esotericism. He dedicated much of his scholarly and charitable work to studying democratic civil societies.
In 2015, John was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography from University of California, Los Angeles. He completed a joint Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning and Geography in 1987 from San Francisco State and a Master’s degree in 1989 from University of California, Los Angeles in Urban Planning. John worked as a Planning Deputy for the Los Angeles City Council and as a Legislative Aide Field Representative for the United States Congress.
He was a founding member and served on the Board of Advisors at the Hannah Mather Crocker Society, Notre Dame University. He was also a Founder and co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry and Project AWE, which is dedicated to exploring connections between Western esotericism and the arts.
John was described by Zhenya Gershman, an Artist and Art Historian, as someone who “had a thirst for knowledge and a striving for improvement of life conditions for others that continues to be contagious. The concept of ‘Moral Imagination’ represented to John a combination of the reverie for artistic creativity with simultaneous responsibility for the world”.