Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen. Yale University Press, 2016. 198 pages.
After Rod Dreher’s review in The American Conservative, I was intrigued enough to buy Dr. Deneen’s book and it was well worth the purchase. It definitely helps cement my slide from quasi-libertarianism to full-blown Toryism.
It definitely strikes the correct tone though I think it’s a little underdeveloped, especially when it comes to economic liberalism. I think 2016 is just the beginning of how the conservative governance is going to resolve the fact the market can be disruptive to local communities and it can leave some folks behind. There clearly isn’t a replacement when it comes to securing prosperity but laissez-faire seems like an ideological dead end for 21st-century conservatism. That doesn’t mean we have to go back to 20th-century progressivism, but there has to be something. Other than that omission, it a terrific read.
Published a quick review over at Conservative Pathways.
Finally, Deneen takes aim at the main problem. Liberalism operates as a form of anti-culture. By attempting to liberate us from every social construct, it eviscerates communities, replaces them with atomized individuals and thus invites the state to fill in the void, if only by sheer necessity.
This is where the book really picks up steam. It is clear we live in an era of escalating atomization. From Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” to Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart,” it’s apparent that America has become more divided and alienated than any other time in recent memory. New research shows this will get worse before it gets better. Although liberalism may not be entirely at fault for these disturbing trends, it — as our dominant political order and philosophical zeitgeist — clearly bears some responsibility.