Monday, October 30, 2017

"Conserving America?: Essays on Present Discontents" by Patrock J. Deneen

Conserving America?: Essays on Present Discontents (Dissident American Thought Today)
by Patrick J. Deneen.

St. Augustines Press; 1 edition (November 30, 2016)

"Opinions about America have taken a decisive turn in the early part of the 21st century. Some 70% of Americans believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction, and half the country thinks that its best days are behind it. Most believe that their children will be less prosperous and have fewer opportunities than previous generations. Evident to all is that the political system is broken and social fabric is fraying, particularly as a growing gap between wealthy haves and left-behind have-nots increases, a hostile divide widens between faithful and secular, and deep disagreement persists over America's role in the world. Wealthy Americans continue to build gated enclaves in and around select cities where they congregate, while growing numbers of Christians compare our times to those of the late Roman empire, and ponder a fundamental withdrawal from wider American society into updated forms of Benedictine monastic communities. The signs of the times suggest that much is wrong with America. This collection of thematic essays by Notre Dame political theorist and public intellectual Patrick Deneen addresses the questions, is there something worth conserving in America, and if so, is America capable of conservation? Can a nation founded in a revolutionary moment that led to the founding of the first liberal nation be thought capable of sustaining and passing on virtues and practices that ennoble? Or is America inherently a nation that idolizes the new over the old, license over ordered liberty, and hedonism over self-rule? Can America conserve what is worth keeping for it to remain--or even become--a Republic?"

Extended Debate: Robert R. Reilly and Patrick Deneen

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Reviews and Related Discussions

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017 Mark Lilla's "The Once and Future Liberal"

The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

by Mark Lilla.

Harper (August 15, 2017). 160 pages.

In The Once and Future Liberal, Mark Lilla offers an impassioned, tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations. Although there have been Democrats in the White House, and some notable policy achievements, for nearly 40 years the vision that Ronald Reagan offered—small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism—has remained the country’s dominant political ideology. And the Democratic Party has offered no convincing competing vision in response.

Instead, as Lilla argues, American liberalism fell under the spell of identity politics, with disastrous consequences. Driven originally by a sincere desire to protect the most vulnerable Americans, the left has now unwittingly balkanized the electorate, encouraged self-absorption rather than solidarity, and invested its energies in social movements rather than in party politics.

With dire consequences. Lilla goes on to show how the left’s identity-focused individualism insidiously conspired with the amoral economic individualism of the Reaganite right to shape an electorate with little sense of a shared future and near-contempt for the idea of the common good. In the contest for the American imagination, liberals have abdicated.

Now they have an opportunity to reset. The left is motivated, and the Republican Party, led by an unpredictable demagogue, is in ideological disarray. To seize this opportunity, Lilla insists, liberals must concentrate their efforts on recapturing our institutions by winning elections. The time for hectoring is over. It is time to reach out and start persuading people from every walk of life and in every region of the country that liberals will stand up for them. We must appeal to – but also help to rebuild – a sense of common feeling among Americans, and a sense of duty to each other.

A fiercely-argued, no-nonsense book, enlivened by Lilla’s acerbic wit and erudition, The Once and Future Liberal is essential reading for our momentous times.

Reviews and Discussion







Friday, February 17, 2017

Michael Novak 1933-2017, Requiescat in pace

From his daughter, Jana Novak:

As many of you may have heard by now, dad aka Michael Novak, died peacefully early this morning from complications from colon cancer, at his apartment in DC surrounded by family.

Before he died ... Michael Novak was heard to say, repeatedly, to everyone who came to say goodbye, "God loves you and you must love one another, that is all that matters." - Robert Royal

Reflections on Novak’s passing

[This post will be continually updated in the weeks to come]