Why Liberalism Failed

Why Liberalism Failed

Book - 2018
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"Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century--fascism, communism, and liberalism--only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism's proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure."--Publisher's description.
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, [2018]
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780300223446
Branch Call Number: 320.51 D411W 2018
Characteristics: xix, 225 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 17, 2019

Interesting. It changed my thinking about liberal democracy somewhat but I didn't find any substantial argument that it was done. What the author sees replacing it is also hazy: some combination of 60's type back to the land plus religious structures and relationships perhaps.

May 01, 2019

A timely and intriguing look at the ideological roots and history of liberalism and how it has shaped everything in modern day life, from politics to education, family life, community, religion and social/civic movements.

I think most would consider this book to be libertarian-leaning, but the author isn’t interested in aligning himself with any one political party or ideology. He critiques Democrats and Republicans equally and makes a very compelling case for why both major parties today are cut from the same cloth of liberalism and are working to advance the same agenda, just from different perspectives and motivations.

I found myself nodding along to many passages in the book and earmarking several pages to revisit later because they articulated many of liberalism’s failings quite well, grounding arguments in the words and books of the most important political scientists and philosophers of the last 500 years (including Bacon, Burke, Dewey, Foucault, Friedman, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and many others whose work and writings I was introduced to).

In my view, the book succeeds at proving its central point and theme - liberalism has brought us to this point in our civilization, and its answer to our problems is further application of its self-fulfilling and self-serving liberal ideology. A couple of chapters in the book, however, made liberalism out to be the boogeyman and tried to make certain connections that didn’t pull through in justifying why liberalism is the culprit (biggest example being a rise in secularism and abandonment of church and Christian life). That would be my only critique of the book.

All in all, this is a very well-written and approachable book that anyone who has basic knowledge and understanding of political life and history will enjoy and take something away from. There’s a lot to think about regarding the future of our societies, cultures and civilization, and the book does an excellent job of telling everyone why (and how) they need to pay attention and get involved in shaping our post-liberalism world.

Dec 20, 2018

Conservative, Catholic, communitarian criticism of "liberalism." Reasoned argument, but in its abstractness, it seems disconnected from -- and unclear about -- any actual, concrete aspects of contemporary American social life.

May 09, 2018

As the worldwide crisis of liberalism continues, Patrick Deneen offers an obituary. Liberalism, he avers, is in danger not because of its failures but because of its successes, having produced a mass of social atoms thoroughly "liberated" from any kind of community, governed by impersonal markets and governments. Such individuals, alienated even from themselves, can hardly have any confidence in such arrangements, or muster the will to defend them. To the contrary, they will form new tribes organized around personalities who promise to master the system, or tear it down. The logic of liberalism demands liberation from liberalism itself.

Why Liberalism Failed occupies an interesting middle ground between Edward Luce's The Retreat of Western Liberalism and DC Schindler's Freedom from Reality. Not quite as topical - and therefore disposable - as the former, analytically it is far stronger, while not nearly as powerful as the latter, it is far more readable.


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