Why Liberalism Failed Patrick J. Deneen

Series:
Politics and Culture
Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
24 Apr 2018
ISBN:
9780300223446
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
248 pages: 210 x 140 x 22mm

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.

Patrick J. Deneen is Professor of Political Science and holds the David A. Potenziani Memorial College Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His previous books include The Odyssey of Political TheoryDemocratic Faith, and a number of edited volumes. He lives in South Bend, IN.
 

"Deneen's book is valuable because it focuses on today's central issue. The important debates now are not about policy. They are about the basic values and structures of our social order."—David Brooks, New York Times


"Bracing. . . . Deneen comes as a Jeremiah to announce that Tocqueville's fear that liberalism would eventually dissolve all [its] inheritances . . . may now be fully upon us."—Ross Douthat, New York Times


"Mr. Deneen has written a serious book offering a radical critique of modernity, and he has taken the trouble to do so both concisely and engagingly. His insights as well as his crotchets in pursuit of his argument are often arresting. He writes compellingly on the growth of government in tandem with the spread of liberal market principles, for example, noting that a supposed preference for 'limited government' has been no match for the demand for expanding government enforcement of individual rights."—Tod Lindberg, Wall Street Journal



"Few books challenge the core assumptions of modern liberalism as unapologetically as the suggestively titled Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen."—Shadi Hamid, TheAtlantic.com


“Liberalism is clearly in everybody’s sights, and Why Liberalism Failed will be an important contributor to the conversation, suggesting that we cannot work within the existing paradigm anymore. The philosophers will not solve our problems; working with our neighbors will.”—Joshua Mitchell, Professor of Political Theory, Georgetown University


"Deneen writes with clarity, candor and superior scholarship to create one of the most absorbing political philosophy books of the past decade.  No one who reads it, no one who considers its substance, will be able to think about the dynamics and the consequences of the American democratic experiment in quite the same way."—Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, author of Author of Strangers in a Strange Land


"This courageous and timely book is a major contribution to understanding the rude awakening in the Trump moment.  It shows that we must transcend the death grip of the two oscillating poles of classical liberalism (of Republican and Democratic parties) and examine the deep assumptions that hold us captive.  It also reveals that if we remain tied to liberalism's failure, more inequality, repression, and spiritual emptiness await us."—Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, Harvard


"Patrick Deneen is a probing and gifted cultural critic, afire with controlled moral passion. Why Liberalism Failed provides a bracing antidote to the pieties of left and right by showing how an impoverished, bipartisan conception of liberty has imprisoned the public life it claims to have set free. One could not ask for a timelier or more necessary enrichment of our depleted political discourse."—Jackson Lears, Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History, Rutgers University


“A path-breaking book, boldly argued and expressed in terms that might justifiably be called prophetic in character.”—Wilfred M. McClay, G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, University of Oklahoma