WHY LIBERALISM FAILED

PATRICK J DENEEN
248pp 2018 LIST PRICE: £20.00 S397

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Liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. Deneen argues that 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 favour of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching state system in human history. The centripetal forces now at work in Western political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure.

It focuses on today’s central issue. The important debates now . . . are about the basic values and structures of our social order. NEW YORK TIMES