Why Liberalism Failed

Why Liberalism Failed

Book - 2018
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Has liberalism failed because it has succeeded?

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: New Haven : Yale University Press, [2018]
ISBN: 9780300223446
0300223447
Branch Call Number: 320.51
Characteristics: xix, 225 pages ; 22 cm

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dennismmiller
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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