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Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy
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Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,705 ratings  ·  269 reviews
Combining intellectual history, social science, economics, and pop culture, bestselling author of Liberal FascismNational Review senior editor, and syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg makes the timely case that America – and other democracies  must actively defend liberty against forces pulling us back to the tribal and nationalistic ideologies of the past.
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Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Crown Forum
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Scott Whitlock I'm a moderate who leans a bit to the left, and I thought the book was brilliant and hardly incoherent. There are parts I disagree with and parts I ag…moreI'm a moderate who leans a bit to the left, and I thought the book was brilliant and hardly incoherent. There are parts I disagree with and parts I agree with. Goldberg is smart, and his ideas should be taken seriously, even if you don't agree with them. (less)

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Charles J
May 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I think this book is meant as a #NeverTrumper manifesto, an attempt to create intellectual backbone for that wispy band of conservative holdouts, who crouch behind the crenellations in their National Review fastness, wondering why the final assault on them has yet to begin—not realizing it is because everyone has forgotten about them. Strictly speaking, though, I have no idea what the point of this book is, because it’s a jumble of thoughts, anecdotes and superficial facts, strung together with ...more
David Huff
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If by chance you weren’t aware that Jonah Goldberg is not exactly a Donald Trump fan, you will discover the magnitude of his disdain for the President in the latter chapters of this book. However, don’t let that cause you to burn the author in effigy, or pass out from excessive glee, whichever may apply to you. This book is a broad, well–researched survey of centuries of history, emphasizing how unlikely it was that any nation would ever enjoy the freedoms, rule of law, free market economy, and ...more
Douglas Wilson
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Really enjoyed it, apart from hanging inalienable rights from somewhere in the stratosphere.
Gary Moreau
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
“I hope readers see this as a serious book.” Mission accomplished. It is the most serious book I have read among the abundant crop of recent books on political economy. But if the original manuscript was twice as long, as the author claims, my thanks to the editor. As happy as I am that I read the book, I was ultimately satisfied to put it down.

Goldberg is a conservative Enlightenment-liberal capitalist. Neither an admirer of Trump and the alt-right or the progressive left, some will think of hi
...more
Carol Storm
The chapter on Trump deserves Five Stars, and then some. Jonah not only nails all of Trump's bizarre obsessions and character flaws, which are too well-known to be enumerated here, but provides a brilliant analysis of how the Republican party fell apart and why the Conservative movement was unable to resist him.

The rest of the book is barely worth one star. There's all the usual Goldberg filler -- cheap shots at Franklin Roosevelt, horror stories about the French Revolution, condescending pop-c
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Irene
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
According to Goldberg, human societies are naturally tribal, greedy, violent and unequal. It is only in the recent history of the human animal that ideas such as universal human rights, cooperation across borders for commerce and science and the equality of all people became widely held in the West. Since these notions are not “natural”, Western society will revert to what is “natural” unless these values are carefully safeguarded and cultivated. In both the politics of Obama and Trump, Goldberg ...more
Lynell
May 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read something that makes you yell at the audiobook every now and then...

Saw the author on The Daily Show and he had some interesting thoughts in promoting his book, so I downloaded the audiobook.

Positive: Interesting historical recitation, including relating several schools of philosophy to his thesis that the current state of American democracy is active decay. Interesting juxtaposition of some social-psych research, which I have read in my academic career.

However....

He has a MASSIVE habit
...more
Richard
Just to clarify: this is not a review, but notes I’ve written about the reasons I want to read Goldberg’s book, and my expectations (Baysian priors, if you will.) The book’s publication date isn’t until 24 April 2018.

Jonah Goldberg is attacked from the right as a RINO (Republican in name only), not because he is a liberal in disguise but because he is disloyal to and willing to criticize members of the GOP who advocate the exercise of power in ways he considers antithetical to conservative princ
...more
Erin Cohenour
I finished this by sheer force of will. I came across Jonah Goldberg in an NPR interview and followed him on Twitter in my quest to try to see the “other side” (aka conservatives.) He seems like a smart, decent human being. But I’m rethinking that after subjecting myself to this slog of a book. The main argument- that society progressed rapidly after millennia of brutal inequality and we could do well to appreciate that we aren’t wallowing in the medieval muck anymore- is salient, but can also b ...more
John Martindale
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated Goldberg's tone and approach, this book was much more in the spirit of Jonathan Haidt, than that of more resent works of Dinesh D'Souza. Goldberg of course has strongly held opinions and beliefs, but the work didn't seem polemical.
He held my interest throughout the book, and had very interesting reflections on why there seems the perennial pull towards tribalism, and this even after the west fortuitously stumbled upon ideals and ideas that have tempered our tribal inclinat
...more
Bob Nichols
Goldberg’s book wanders through a lot of territory, but I think his basic argument is this: He pushes Lockean liberalism. His book is a celebration of individual freedom and a dislike of the state. While he is critical of Trump for not being in line with these values, he is particularly critical of the new liberalism – the “progressives” who love government and its regulations to perfect society.

Goldberg lodges this argument in a deeper context of political and biological theory. The debate now
...more
Karen A. Wyle
I'm rounding up a bit due to a bit more repetition than absolutely necessary and perhaps an extra tangent or two.

This is a hugely, desperately important book. The subtitle sums up its main point, except that what it hails as humanity's "miracle" and seeks to defend is not just American democracy, but the liberty, prosperity, and scope for individual achievement that grew from the Enlightenment, of which American-style political and social freedoms provide the supreme example. It is a warning and
...more
Willy Marz Thiessam
Jonah Goldberg justifies inequality and a myriad of global problems as the price for Freedom, as if it existed as an absolute, almost like an object with physical dimensions and qualities. The object of freedom is to make a commitment in one way or the other. The massive inequality that Goldberg justifies minuses out any aspect of change. Capital and its accumulation above every other consideration is not about stuff or maintaining the ability to maintain "freedom", its about power commoditized ...more
Samuel
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a nut shell, for the vast majority of human civilisation (and before civilisation) the vast majority of humanity lived in abject poverty and in the last 200-300 years we stumbled upon the miracle which has pulled humanity out of abject poverty. Today a lower class American lives better than did Louie IV, the sun king.

We aren't quite sure how we stumbled upon the miracle, but we do seem to be actively trying to destroy it. We are forgetting the lessons the last 200 years have taught us and are
...more
Kat Coffin
Feb 13, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The one good thing I can say about this book--it's a good book to give to conservative loved ones who are supporting Trump. Conservatives need Jonah Goldberg. They need his criticisms of Trump, they need his criticisms of their movement being seduced, and they need his disgust towards their abhorrent behavior.

But here is where my goodwill ends. Not only was this book a chore to read, it was condescending and poorly cited. Goldberg has an annoying habit of making loud claims, citing the claims,
...more
Cami
I wish Jonah Goldberg's book titles were less incendiary to more accurately reflect the calm, reasoned tone of his content and be more inviting to moderate readers. Unlike the angry political rant the title implies, this book is an intelligent and academic comparison of conservatism and progressivism; democracy and populism; romanticism and rationalism; Locke and Rousseau; capitalism and socialism, British and French Enlightenment; 1984 and Brave New World. As a conservative, Goldberg has been c ...more
E
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a lot meatier than I might have expected. It is not merely a screed against "liberals these days." Instead it is a consideration of the last 400 years of western civilization. How did we arrive at a point where the free market was valued, individual rights were protected, and private property was sacrosanct? And how have we maintained these characteristics these past several centuries? And how are they now in peril?

Goldberg goes to great length to show how miserable poverty was the
...more
John Devlin
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suicide is a distillation of much of conservative thought in today's America.

Capitalism is great, the family is great, community is great, and the State's rise is killing all the former.

And I wholeheartedly agree.

The grander assertion is that the West is failing bc the folks are ignorant, oblivious, easily distracted, and given over to a Oakland Raider like sensibility towards their team against all the others.

And I wholeheartedly agree.

Goldberg goes onto discuss Trump and his rise, and like him
...more
Anthony
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
National Review and AEI's Jonah Goldberg tackles the past 300 years of human history, citing the growth and spread of capitalism as "the miracle" that has been singularly responsible for our progress as a species. As he concludes however, all this progress is tenuous in the West especially, as we are largely bound by tribal identities that threaten fracture (and have fractured) civil society. While his scathing indictment of populism and identity politics excoriates Donald Trump, it is not the c ...more
Vannessa Anderson
THERE IS NO GOD IN THIS BOOK

The humans in this story are animals who evolved from other animals who in turn evolved from even more embarrassing animals and before that from a humiliating sea of ooze, slime, meats, and vegetables in the primordial stew. We pulled ourselves out of the muck, not some Garden of Eden. Indeed, if the Garden of Eden ever existed, it was a slum. We created the Miracle of modernity all on our own, and if we lose it, that will be our fault too.


Whew!

Author Goldberg did
...more
Sam Reaves
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not to be confused with James Burnham's 1964 book of the same title (or for that matter with Oswald Spengler's reactionary screed from 1918, The Decline of the West), this is a defense of classical liberalism by a contemporary conservative who is appalled by the rise of Donald Trump but sees him as a symptom of a larger problem, namely the erosion of the classical liberal values on which the unprecedented rise of Western Europe (and its extension North America) is built. Goldberg calls this rise ...more
Jeff Raymond
I don’t know what it will ultimately take for Jonah Goldberg to be taken seriously as a historian of political movements. Liberal Fascism remains an important and instrumental text, and Suicide of the West, with its equally-bombastic title and premise, provides a detailed and solid outlook into how our past is dictating our present and, more importantly, how we’re losing it.

The overall messaging may be the only stumble here, as Goldberg spends more time explaining this from his point of view rat
...more
Elise
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read my review at Journalingonpaper.com https://journalingonpaper.com/2018/03... ...more
Forrest
We have all heard the story about the goose that laid the golden egg. By the same token if we tax the wealthy and businesses to the point to where it is no longer beneficial or advantageous to them to produce wealth, then the contributing source will disappear and the state will be left with nothing.

The worst thing about American slavery is that happened. The best thing about American slavery is we put an end to it. At the expense of hundreds of thousands of lives. Those who today now demand som
...more
Rachel
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
I didn't technically finish, but I reached the library due date and couldn't renew. So when I get it back, I'm on chapter 10.

You are familiar with the story of the goose that laid the golden egg. There are two versions of this story. In the first, (French, I think), the farmer and his wife decide that the goose must have a lump of gold inside it, and decide to kill the goose and get the gold all at once. In the second, the farmer -getting one golden egg a day- demands two. When the goose says "S
...more
Joseph D. Walch
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book reminded me of Dostoevsky's quote from Notes from Underground: “I even think the best definition of man is: a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful.”

Goldberg's main theme of this book is that there are a lot of things wrong with modern western democratic tradition, but that there is also nothing that has produced the blindingly rapid and expansive growth that mankind has seen in the past 300 (or even 100) years compared to the rest of human history and the rest of huma
...more
Richard Sansing
This is an odd book. The first 40% or so presents the author's basic thesis. For the first 200,000 years or so of human existence, the tribe was the important institution. Economic activity occurred within the tribe, and the state emerged to protect the tribe from other tribes and to conquer other tribes. This tribal instinct became part of who we are.

And then about 300 years ago, the individual became more important than the tribe--first in England, then spreading to continental Europe and to N
...more
Annie
Oct 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read at the urging of a friend from work, who finds Goldberg to be a talented and entertaining conservative writer, and granted he is that to a large extent. Still, I'd hoped for points of view that were respectful and well-considered. Instead, Goldberg sees liberals as easy scapegoats, and piles on blame for most of our ills. He's a blinkered conservative cheerleader and after a short while, this isn't worth much time or investment.

Here's an example of his thinking, Goldberg's view is when the
...more
Void lon iXaarii
Just finished it, here's my quick personal/biased thoughts in quick impressions:

+, -, + the book makes a journey through time to make a point, in the initial almost 10 chapters I must admit it sort of lost me, it felt just like general philosophising, full of interesting facts and pretty good reasoning but I didn't super get the points, but then it clicked and I got the point the author is making

+, +, +, + very very interesting idea he has about a modern return to a kind of ancient humanity intr
...more
Alicia
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - fascinating look at political history, from nepotism in the early Catholic church, to Chinese eunuchs, to Janissaries in the Ottoman empire, to Pres Wilson’s desire for more state control (leading to an administrative state), to “guild economics” then and now, to progressives fighting for state control and eugenics (as they unfortunately still do today as they refuse to outlaw infanticide). Goldberg also pointed out the problems with unpresidential Trump and his populism. I loved Goldberg’ ...more
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Jonah Jacob Goldberg is an American conservative syndicated columnist and author. Goldberg is known for his contributions on politics and culture to National Review Online, where he is the editor-at-large. He is the author of Liberal Fascism, which reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

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“Capitalism is unnatural.
Democracy is unnatural.
Human rights are unnatural.
The world we live in today is unnatural, and we stumble into it more or less by accident.
The natural state of mankind is grinding poverty punctuated by horrific violence terminating with an early death.
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