David Shane's Reviews > Why Liberalism Failed

Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick J. Deneen
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it was amazing

Patrick Deneen argues that liberalism's 500-year ascendancy is coming to an end, the victim of its own success. Liberalism might be (quickly) defined as individual autonomy in all things - it treats humans as atomized individuals owing nothing to anyone else past or present, but in fact assumes an independence for human life that no human has ever experienced or would want to. In modern life, it is seen in the economic sphere as globalized, markets-in-everything capitalism, and in the social sphere as unlimited "expressive individualism". Its continuation in a nation depends upon being counterbalanced by strong social institutions and social norms, but as it cares only about individuals, it also weakens those same institutions and norms, resulting in an ever growing and more controlling state to compensate, less and less under the rein of the people whose liberty it is supposedly securing. And, rooted in a false anthropology, liberalism makes promises it has never and could never fulfill, promising unlimited personal choice in all things, but now producing a world in which, in many ways, many of its citizens feel carried along by forces outside their control. What shall come after it, and what can we do to promote the best successor possible?

That is a very quick summary of an excellent book - I don't give five stars to books very often on Goodreads. Almost every paragraph has something important to say. A lot of us sense something is amiss in America today, and will point to this thing, and this thing, and this thing - Deneen pulls all of that into one coherent historical and philosophical story and it is, actually, pretty remarkable how much sense it makes. Might write a blog post in a bit with some quotations I especially liked - the goal there will be to avoid transcribing the book. Recommended.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 8, 2018 – Shelved
May 8, 2018 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Read Homo Deus. Very similar topic.

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