Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why Liberalism Failed

by Patrick J. Deneen

I wonder how many conservatives decided to read this book based on its title. I also wonder how they reacted to it. When Professor Deneen uses the term "liberalism", he's not talking of the left wing of American politics. Instead he's talking about the underlying ideology that encompasses both the "liberals" and "conservatives" of the modern political scene. Professor Deneen claims that, around five hundred years ago, European philosophers got it into their heads that the ancient concept of "liberty"--freedom from tyranny through the fostering of virtue--was off base, that it was rooted in irrational beliefs and social structures. They and their intellectual descendants instead sought the freedom of individual thought and action by trusting in competing self interests to keep would be tyrants at bay. Fast forward to 2018. The breakdowns were seeing in our society? They're not bugs, they're features. He argues that liberalism carries the seeds of its own destruction.

Not being all that political, I don't have an opinion on how valid this book is or not. Some parts definitely rang true, however. There have been plenty of times I wondered why neither the right nor the left seem able to accomplish their full agendas. ("Just the parts I don't like," he said cynically.) Of course, if he is correct, there are no quick, easy solutions. One thing just about everyone, right and left, can agree on is that we don't want to go back to the Middle Ages. So a better ideology and society will need to be worked out bit by bit in the years (decades? centuries?) to come.

Check it out!
LibraryThing link


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