Why Liberalism Failed kindle Þ Hardcover read

book ↠ Why Liberalism Failed Å Patrick J. Deneen

book ↠ Why Liberalism Failed Å Patrick J. Deneen Olitical evolution As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions it trumpets eual rights while fostering incomparable material ineuality; its legitimacy rests on consent yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of in Like any compelling ideology liberalism claims not to be an ideology at all but rather a neutral and sober minded appraisal of human nature and the origins and ends of political life It is not we its advocates claim who are ideological; rather the liberal order serves to protect us against the ravages of ideologically driven agents within its domain If such agents had their way we’re told our freedom to live work and believe as we choose would be undone and our individual wills would be subjected to the arbitrary dictates purveyed by political tyranny religious dogma and cultural backwardness Liberalism then is posited as a buffer against totalitarianism; a space of epistemological neutrality which guards the body politic from the imposition of any comprehensive value system as such systems must always be subjective and thus at odds with the freely chosen subjectivities of the autonomous individuals of which the liberal state is comprised To a world mired in liberal ideology any talk of “liberal imperialism” “liberal statism” or even “liberal totalitarianism” appears self contradictory After all in the twentieth century we watched the European colonial empires disintegrate leaving the liberal Wilsonian principle of national self determination in their wake; we watched the defeat of Nazi totalitarianism and the preservation of liberal order in western Europe; and we watched the collapse of Soviet statism in 1991 leaving the world to the unchallenged political and economic values of liberalism and free market capitalism But the fact that liberalism is the only prominent ideology left standing after the fiery trial of the twentieth century—the others being colonialism fascism and communism—does not mean as many seem to believe that liberalism is less of an ideology than the others The lack of any serious challenge to the now universal liberal orthodoxy makes its faulty assumptions about human nature and its pernicious effects on our political and economic life all the difficult to recognize for what they are Ideologies are at their most pervasive most gripping and ultimately most destructive when they recede into a type of intellectual white noise and their assertions are taken uncritically as statements of bald fact Deneen invites us to view liberalism the way we once viewed fascism and communism as a pervasive and totalizing ideological system which has turned its creators into its creatures remaking the better part of humanity into captives of its essential and unstoppable logic From Bacon and Machiavelli to Hayek Krugman and Fukuyama the four hundred year project of liberalism has not been a description of human nature as advertised but rather an imposition on it; and that project may finally be coming undone due largely to its own ubiuitous processes Liberalism is a Frankenstein’s monster; a technological product that has escaped from its engineers rendering in the world a grotesue inversion of its promises Deneen identifies two essential myths upon which the liberal project is predicated The first of these is the myth of the ontologically isolated autonomous individual a conception of the human individual as firstly and primarily a free choosing agent abstracted from history untethered to culture nature or community The importance of this myth to liberal thinking is evidenced by the social contract theory of liberalism’s forefathers Hobbes Locke and Rousseau The second great myth is that of an essential antagonism between nature and culture first articulated by Francis Bacon who once notoriously compared the technological enterprise of mastering and exploiting nature for human material benefit in favorable terms with the usefulness of torture for compelling a witness to yield up his secrets In a move of profound dramatic irony liberals of both the left and right wing varieties who most shrilly decry the dangers of religious fundamentalism Christian or Islamic often cling most fervently to the saving power of a political faith whose story of human and governmental origins is in effect a creationist myth; a fable no empirically credible and no less contrary to the findings of modern anthropological science than the book of Genesis Hobbes begins his social contract theory with an image of a prehistorical humanity composed of isolated individuals who apparently dropped out of the sky; hostile to one another and to nature; each man a sovereign combatant in a war of all against all Peace culture and civilization are only accomplished through the subjection of petty sovereigns to greater ones No room is allotted here for any pre contract culture or any innate capacity for communitarian bonding In fact this picture recognizes no mediating institutions whatsoever between the individual and the state This story tacitly endorsed by all the social contractarians contained the seeds of liberalism’s total transformation of human life over the subseuent three and a half centuries The process of liberalism’s ascendancy has been the process through which the liberal state has developed the ideological concept of the atomized individual and used it as a cudgel to break apart barriers to its expanding power and influence Liberalism asserts that individuals came together to create the liberal state to serve each person’s needs but it may be accurate to say that liberalism created the “individual” as we now understand the concept and then used this invented category as a tool to accomplish its aims fulfill its logic and undermine its intellectual rivals In so doing liberalism has astonishingly turned humanity into the very caricature it made of life in the state of nature Under liberal auspices our society has indeed become one of increasingly isolated individuals increasingly at war with one another and increasingly finding themselves with no mainstay of identity or public recourse but the state Much in the same way that people joke about how governments use Orwell’s 1984 as a manual liberalism’s answer to human nature is producing a society in which life is increasingly solitary poor nasty brutish and short The supposed struggle between individualism and statism so often at the heart of our political discourse turns out on closer inspection to be completely false Statism and individualism are merely liberalism seen from two different angles The state creates and bolsters the individual in his self image legal standing and economic interactions; the individual to strengthen and retain his individuality so conceived demands an increasingly powerful and accessible intrusive state The liberal individual cannot be forced to rely upon people he knows for assistance as this would create unwanted personal obligations He can interface only with the state because the state exists at a level of abstraction and impersonality which allows the individual to preserve his individuality To fulfill its role the state must provide an ever increasing array of personal and economic choices for the atomic individual and it accomplishes this through the Baconian domination and exploitation of nature; whether that nature take the form of natural resources or human bodies The worlds of classical antiuity and medieval Christendom did not conceive of liberty as autonomous free choice Liberty according to the classical understanding was a state of self rulership Liberty was achieved when the polis or the individual mastered its own needs and desires thus reuiring no external actors to fulfill its demands Liberty reuired education and self discipline; the free citizen had to have his own personal and economic from the Greek oikos household affairs in order so that he wouldn’t have to be reliant on someone else to put them in order for him Likewise with the free state The education reuired for self rule was provided through the study of the liberal arts a once central but now fading component of a proper university education The liberal arts exposed students to the spectrum of human experience—the accumulated experiential wisdom of mankind—and gave them the tools for navigating the vagaries of life The liberal arts educated people in how to be human beings and by extension responsible citizens and stewards of liberty This understanding of liberty should inform our understanding of democracy To uote Deneen’s approving interpretation of Tocueville “Democracy in his view was defined not by rights to voting either exercised or eschewed but by the ongoing discussion and disputation and practices of self rule in particular places with familiar people over a long period of timeDemocracy is not simply the expression of self interest but the transformation of that what might have been narrow interest into a capacious concern for the common good This can be effected only through the practice of citizens simultaneously ruling and being ruled by themselves democracy ’is not the laws’ creation but the people learn to achieve it by making the laws’”Unsurprisingly universities—now increasingly drawn into the surrounding liberal economic order—are abandoning the liberal arts and shifting to an emphasis on studies with “utility” and “career relevance” In some uarters the term “liberal arts” has become a kind of sneer “Oh good luck with your liberal arts degree I’m getting an MBA like a gentleman you peasant” In another great irony the modern university which proudly trains our social elites has made its new mission to provide the type of technocratic or career focused education that was the bastion of the servile classes in the ancient world Such people learned specialized skills in a particular trade because they were barred from the type of education of those who would be counted as citizens Those were the days Liberalism has also changed our understanding of culture Whereas liberalism sees culture only as an unchosen obstruction to individual autonomy—a series of inherited prejudices which distort the “original” person—the word itself comes from the same root as the word “cultivate” The classical understanding of culture is based on the proposition that like plants people need to have an environment that allows them to flourish according to their nature Culture is the soil from which a fully realized human being can emerge Liberalism by forcibly extracting individuals from their cultural roots creates a type of cultural black hole an anticulture that swallows up the cultures in its path leaving shallow empty lives in its wake The way out of this social uandary in which we find ourselves Deneen suggests cannot be achieved through theory but only through practice At the local level in our own small ways we must all work to reestablish the practice of self rule We must relearn how to do things for ourselves make things for ourselves and support one another at a very personal visceral level To reestablish liberty properly understood we must reestablish personal and communal self sufficiency In conclusion I need to learn how to cook

book Why Liberalism Failed

Why Liberalism Failed kindle Þ Hardcover read ¶ [Ebook] ➨ Why Liberalism Failed By Patrick J. Deneen – Gwairsoft.co.uk 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 situati Ha Dividual 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 failu Deneen does a good job of getting his point across by developing a simple formula that he uses throughout the book For every statement he makes about liberalism's failure he applies that formula so the book is uite repetitive which is part of what makes his argument so easy to understand Not that I agree with many of his points but he did make me thinkIt's not within Deneen's stated scope of the book to provide detailed solutions Nevertheless I was disappointed by the almost utter lack of proposed solutions here If he hadn't explicitly stated such wasn't his goal I would've rated Why Liberalism Failed 2 stars instead of 3It's also disappointing that his broadly stated vague suggestions for fixing the problem that is finding a successor to the political ideology of liberalism seem to call for a return to primacy of teaching the Western Canon in institutions of higher learning; an increased emphasis on teaching religion especially the variety of Protestant Christianity practiced in America; and a greater emphasis on teaching character morals and value In other words in Chapters 5 6 Deneen seems to be advocating a return to 1950s '60s and 80s era White male dominance and all it believes Of course that could just be me reading into his argument but since he doesn't do a better job of suggesting concrete reforms that's the risk he runs Still kudos to Deneen for this thoughtful thought provoking and easily readable treatise I hope that younger folks with brighter minds and far time and energy than I have to devote to such pursuits will read it and be inspired to come up with a better fairer effective ideology and political system based on it before America collapses utterly and irrevocablyIf you're considering reading this book I feel it's important for you to understand a key part of Deneen's argument By liberalism he does NOT mean the left leaning policies of American Democrats He defines it as the ideology underpinning our entire political system He believes and clearly repeatedly states that both DemocratsLiberals Progressive Liberals and RepublicansConservatives Classical Liberals are liberalists and seek to achieve the same goals using different means languageSince I don't agree that liberalism has failed yet I think a better title would be How Liberalism Fails But hey Deneen didn't ask me

Patrick J. Deneen Å Why Liberalism Failed book

Why Liberalism FailedHas 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 p Poor Francis Fukuyama He has been a punching bag ever since he unwisely declared the End of History than twenty five years ago Fukuyama of course meant that the globe had at the end of ideologies reached an euilibrium an even calm sea of liberal democracy and all that was left was cleanup Patrick Deneen is here to kick Fukuyama some and to announce that not only is liberalism a defective ideology it is doomed just as were the other flash in the pan ideologies The systemic failure of liberalism is on the horizon or underway and Deneen’s project is to offer thoughts on how we got here and what is next Thus Why Liberalism Failed fits suarely into my current interest Reaction—the call for the creation of a new political order built on the ashes of the oldBy “liberalism” Deneen means the philosophy of the Enlightenment built on the core idea of maximizing human liberty with its ultimate philosophical roots in Francis Bacon adapted by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and mediated through John Stuart Mill Deneen begins with his central claim—that liberalism is reaching its end because it was a beautiful seeming thing built on lies Liberalism is like the ueen in Snow White a mortal who over time has become ugly but who retains the outward form of beauty through a blend of careful management and acts of evil But as with other ideologies such as communism it must fail because it denies human nature and it loses legitimacy as the resulting gaps between its claims and the reality of lived human experience become ever visible In the end the ueen and all ideologies are exposed for what they are and dieThe failure of this liberalism is not the failure of today’s political liberals or what might generally be called progressives Deneen ascribes blame for the rise and fall of liberalism eually to both progressives and to most American conservatives what are sometimes called classical liberals Both liberals and such conservatives pursue autonomic individualism while ignoring the deeper reality that such overemphasis on individualism is anti human and doomed to failure The failures of liberalism are failures of the state and the market which are intertwined not opposed and the resulting plant is watered eually by conservatives and liberals There is no Jack cutting at the base of this beanstalk; when it falls it will be because it has rotted from withinDeneen therefore calls it “Unsustainable Liberalism” He begins with a history lesson pointing out that the human desire for liberty far pre dates liberalism but that liberty from the ancient Greeks onward up until the Enlightenment meant ordered liberty That is it was the opposite of wholesale autonomy Instead it was the tutored choice of each person to choose virtue and self rule creating freedom from the tyranny of appetites in the individual and from tyranny of individuals in the polis This history is covered at length and better in Conserving America? a book of essays that Deneen published in 2016 But liberalism heralded by Machiavelli rejected the cultivation of virtue as the basis of good government and a good society in favor of a “realist” understanding of people as unalterably bad and reuired to be managed as such by the creation of institutions that constrained them This was followed by Hobbes’s and Locke’s removal of “the essential supports for a training in virtue” which “came to be viewed as sources of oppression arbitrariness and limitation” And finally to permit maximum human flourishing liberalism following Francis Bacon demanded that nature itself must be overcome first to reliably maximize her material bounty and later to deny even her existence so as not to limit individual choice in both cases to maximize human power and autonomy All this of course was in opposition to “the classical and Christian understanding of liberty”Liberalism itself tells us constantly it is a success And it certainly is “an encompassing political ecosystem in which we have swum unaware of its existence” uestioning liberalism seems like uestioning air Any problems with our society and any rejection of the premises or conclusions of liberalism are seen as merely resulting from not enough liberalism The response is to call for liberalism to better enforce its dictates everywhere using a forceful application of liberalism—Ryszard Legutko’s “coercion to freedom”But Deneen says liberalism’s putative success at making us happier and freer is an illusion Rather liberalism is caught in a downward spiral in which the ill societal effects of unbridled autonomy reuire government force proscriptions and surveillance while simultaneously the same is reuired to achieve ever emancipation and individual liberty The state becomes the object of love or at least the binding force for an atomized and isolated population The economics of liberal democracy create a new aristocracy of winners and an underclass of losers with the latter only pacified by the promise of increased future consumption due to promised overall economic growth Education that forms the human being to be a full member of society has disappeared in favor of servile education in money making with money always seen as better And that same education has indoctrinated society in a key reuirement of liberalism’s perceived success—the unsustainable extraction from nature of goods intended to maximize the utility of today’s generation and maintain the uietude of economic losers with no thought for moderation or for future generations Worse nature is conuered with technology that put in the hands of individuals rather than resource extractors promises yet liberation but only delivers a combination of jitters and loneliness “Liberalism’s end game is unstainable in every respect it cannot perpetually enforce order upon a collection of autonomous individuals increasingly shorn of constitutive social norms nor can it provide endless material growth in a world of limits We can either elect a future of self limitation born of the practice and experience of self governance in local communities or we can back inexorably into a future in which extreme license coexists with extreme oppression”Deneen next turns to aspects of liberalism other than its unsustainability First is culture or precisely “Liberalism as Anticulture” Not all things called culture are in fact culture which is properly viewed as “a set of generational customs practices and rituals that are grounded in local and particular settings” “Pop culture” is not culture at all Similarly what liberalism offers as culture is instead something not grounded in nature; not grounded in time; and not grounded in place “Whereas culture is an accumulation of local and historical experience and memory liberal ‘culture’ is the vacuum that remains when local experience has been eviscerated memory is lost and every place becomes every other place”This anticulture is the result of two trends in liberalism—the homogenization created by market liberalism and the destruction of local customs and practices by the overweening liberal state in the service and pursuit of emancipation which holds that “legitimate limits upon liberty can arise only from the authority of the consent based state” “Liberalism makes humanity into mayflies” rejecting the bonds of time connecting us to the past in the form of the arts and history and to the future in the form of mortgaging our descendants’ patrimony by stripping the Earth Deneen relies heavily on Tocueville in this analysis as do many civil institutionalist conservatives that is those who focus on cultural renewal through a revival of civil society outside the state since he predicted much of the outline of modern American society He also cites Solzhenitsyn whose famous 1978 commencement address at Harvard University for which he was excoriated at the time noted this hollowing out of “every social norm and custom” as being at the heart of liberalismAs far as emancipation I think though Deneen does not address this the only emancipation worth having in America is that of African Americans whether in the nineteenth twentieth or indeed the twenty first centuries The experience of black people in America is uniue and uniuely bad and it is an actual lived historical experience not some Gramscian fantasy of hegemony funneled through Foucault All other so called emancipations are the tools of those who would destroy us; they are grants to act in certain ways or to receive unearned benefits given by the Leviathan state to those who either do not reuire or should not have such grants or benefits at the expense of the rest of the community Emancipation should be a dirty word and its users should be punished with a day in the stocks in the town suareAnyway the next two chapters attack modern technology for enabling the destructive behavior of liberalism; and for destroying the classical liberal arts both by exalting studies that lead to success in the market over the classical “liberal arts” the humanities and by the destruction of what remains of the classical liberal arts by liberalism’s refashioning of them into vehicles for deconstruction and emancipation It is this latter point I think that is most critical the atomizing tendencies of technology are widely known and acknowledged after all even by liberals Howsoever we got here and whatever value they used to offer there is no restoration of the classical liberal arts in the universities of today We should nuke them all from orbit refusing any taxpayer dollars to the support of anything but the servile arts We should leave the universities to educate only in technical matters and throw all teachers of humanities out on the street where they can peddle their Gender Studies and Latino Studies potions to the unemployed gullible in dark alleys The few professors who do offer real learning will find new employment in colleges that offer real value of which there are still a few like Hillsdale College Or we can rely on our own resources to hire them directly to educate our own young In both cases we will deny the use of common resources to poison the minds of the young Better no humanities than what is taught today I don’t like this conclusion and it’s mine not Deneen’s since I am the child and grandchild of humanities professors and have friends who are thus employed but that’s the way it has to be Dying things should be killed uickly in this case that they may have the chance to be rebornDeneen then turns to “The New Aristocracy” in which he reinforces the point that liberalism as shown by among other things the Enlightenment focus on unleashing the abilities of those most favored by talents at birth necessarily creates a divide between the successful and the rest This divide expands over time as we can see in contemporary America and is pernicious Liberalism’s response is as Ronald Reagan used to say “a rising tide lifts all boats” But not all boats are lifted any and even if they were the fracture of society into a class of the powerful who get powerful and wealthy and a class of Morlocks who over time are somewhat able to consume trinkets is not a winning strategy We need Burke and less MillPenultimately Deneen turns to “The Degradation of Citizenship” Here he specifically attacks “liberal democracy” although Ryszard Legutko does it better Deneen notes that those who push liberal democracy mean that democracy is good only so long as voters choose what is approved by liberalism; otherwise it is “illiberal democracy” a term gaining and currency I have noticed Deneen cites Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy which attacks democracy on this basis demanding that people just like Jason Brennan be given power to dictate the direction of society thus making oddly Jason Brennan my ally in pursuing Reaction Liberalism wants democracy to be limited to expressing preferences of the masses which if approved by their betters can then be implemented by the mandarin administrative state All this means that the individual human is not expected to be a citizen in any meaningful sense so he is not—Deneen unlike Brennan thinks that liberalism caused this problem and that in Tocueville’s time the average person had of the indicia of classical citizenship I am not so sure this is the case but it is Deneen’s claimFinally Deneen of course offers if not solutions at least a way forward First though he sees two main problems with the end of liberalism assuming it collapses rather than metastasizes into totalitarianism One is that in the mind of most people propagandized by liberalism itself liberalism is responsible for the success of the “deepest longings of the West political liberty and human dignity” The rejoinder to those who reject liberalism is that anyone who rejects liberalism embraces slavery and the divine right of kings This is of course not true among other reasons because all the core “good things” of liberalism were not originated by liberalism but by earlier Western Christian thought though the pre liberal West often failed to meet its own aspirations and because liberalism itself increasingly replaces chattel slavery with ideological slavery and the divine right of kings with the eually or tyrannical rule of the administrative state Nonetheless Deneen hedges here intimating that he believes that liberalism has “achievements” and it also has “rightful demands—particularly for justice and dignity” But he does not admit of any real achievements of liberalism and by his own analysis demands for real justice and dignity as opposed to bogus never ending “emancipation” are universal and far antedate liberalism so if liberalism demands them it is merely mimesis not some fresh or independent way in which liberalism benefits humanityThe other problem is distant but difficult especially if Deneen is right that liberalism is doomed whatever rejoinders it may have to criticisms of it It is that to break the world is necessarily to create chaos “disorder and misery” and would probably result in liberalism’s “replacement with a new and doubtless not very different ideology A better course will consist in smaller local forms of resistance practices than theories the building of resilient new cultures against the anticulture of liberalism” Citing unsurprisingly Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option Deneen says “we should focus on developing practices that foster new forms of culture household economics and polis life” As I have said elsewhere to the extent such an option takes hold it will have to fight for its life and not with words only Deneen nods toward this suggesting that such “options” will be “permitted to exist so long as they are nonthreatening to the liberal order’s main business” But he does not follow this line of thought perhaps figuring the problem will solve itself if indeed liberalism is inherently unsustainable and ultimately will lack the power to suppress new movements I am less sanguine but he could be rightOverall this book is not as good as the author’s earlier Conserving America? I think that Deneen is at his best writing essays and Why Liberalism Failed is too much a set of essays masuerading as a book without an adeuate linkage that gives overall force Moreover within the essays too many ideas are repeated with slight variation of thought and phrasing from chapter to chapter making the chapters not adeuately distinct from each other Thus the first chapter “Unsustainable Liberalism” published as a standalone essay in 2012 in the magazine First Things is followed by a chapter on “Uniting Individualism and Statism” repeating and expanding points made in the first chapter about the unity of purpose among progressive and classical liberals Similarly later chapters on technology and the humanities contain a much expansive treatment of classical views of liberty than that found earlier in the book where it would have made sense And variations on the point that Hobbes and Locke were wrong to think that the state of nature was one of autonomy are made too many times in too many places Thus I found some of the book rambling—the writing itself is clear but there is a feeling of lack of coalescence about much of the book perhaps because of the repetition and failure to have a clear progressionThis book does add a theme Deneen has not addressed before and that is liberalism as exhaustive of nature and therefore unsustainable But that is the weakest thread of the book for predictions of material exhaustion of nature have always been falsified from Malthus onward as in the famous 1980 bet between Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich In fact the side effects of resource extraction other than perhaps global warming are far less than they were in past decades in part due to the heavy hand of government and in a possible future world of such magical yet feasible technology as practical fusion asteroid mining or molecular scale replicators the exhaustion of nature would disappear as a problem Moreover there is a key uestion Deneen ignores which is whether the fantastic economic and therefore scientific progress of the past 200 years is the fruit of liberalism whatever its costs may be Certainly gluttony in the form of resource consumption is a moral bad that causes corruption of virtue but the reader gets the impression that Deneen emphasizes the exhaustion of nature in part to be able to bind classical liberals to progressive liberals in the downward spiral of liberalism and thus clearly distinguish himself from classical conservatives so the topic feels a bit shoehorned inAs to Reaction in theory and practice I am framing my own analysis of that tendency to which I increasingly adhere myself As I noted in my review of Mark Lilla’s The Shipwrecked Mind it is possible to divide modern Reaction into a variety of incompatible categories bound not by the desire to return to some mythical Golden Age which could be dismissed as mindless nostalgia but bound by the desire to inform a new age with the lost or ignored wisdom of the past Most American devotees of reaction of the intellectual bent tend toward the reactionary thought of Leo Strauss in essence holding that the Enlightenment project is the fount of wisdom but it all went wrong since the Constitution was written Deneen is one of the major exponents of the opposite tack—that the Enlightenment ie liberalism is itself the problem It may have good propagandists it must having been given such a propagandistic name successful than the failed attempt by the New Atheists to rename anti theists “brights” but the Enlightenment is the original sin and Francis Bacon is the Eve of the modern ageReview completes as first comment