• Return of the Strong Gods

  • Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West
  • By: R.R. Reno
  • Narrated by: Rick Adamson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

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Return of the Strong Gods

By: R.R. Reno
Narrated by: Rick Adamson
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Publisher's Summary

After the staggering slaughter of back-to-back world wars, the West embraced the ideal of the "open society". The promise: By liberating ourselves from the old attachments to nation, clan, and religion that had fueled centuries of violence, we could build a prosperous world without borders, freed from dogmas and managed by experts.  

But the populism and nationalism that are upending politics in America and Europe are a sign that after three generations, the postwar consensus is breaking down. With compelling insight, R. R. Reno argues that we are witnessing the return of the "strong gods" - the powerful loyalties that bind men to their homeland and to one another.  

Reacting to the calamitous first half of the 20th century, our political, cultural, and financial elites promoted open borders, open markets, and open minds. But this never-ending project of openness has hardened into a set of anti-dogmatic dogmas that destroy the social solidarity rooted in family, faith, and nation. While they worry about the return of fascism, our societies are dissolving.

©2019 R. R. Reno (P)2020 Tantor

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    5 out of 5 stars

Mandatory reading for disenchanted souls

Written for those who see the world seemingly falling apart around them and are wondering, "how did we get here?" A well documented dive into the history of modern liberalism, the rejection of beauty, order, and tradition, and replacing them with ever greater openness, diversity, and fluidity, where and how it went wrong, and what we can expect in the future.

6 people found this helpful

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Good book

Excellent overview of what's wrong with the western mindset labeled as the post war consensus. There's a good education within for non-traditional "free market" obsessed capitalist conservatives and libertarians as well as liberal progressives to be educated on the obscene overlap between their ideological failings. Traditionalists will not find much new information here but as far as having everything laid out nicely in one relatively short audiobook it's well worth your support and a listen.

5 people found this helpful

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Mandatory reading

A refreshing take on the current political structure and how America/civilization got to where it is.

2 people found this helpful

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Introducing the destructive post-WWII consensus.

I grew up with the idea that openness and inclusion is a higher good, but early I realised that when I am grown up I will have no place to call home.
R.R. Reno actually makes clear this awareness. That this homelessness I saw, (...in my case, it was storming at me as the post-Coldwar liberal hegemony formed my country), is real and even as a fairly successful consumer performer I will still have no place to call the home of my actual and complete social being. As the softness of the "inclusion and openness" dissolve all homes, I understand better why so many people, like me, will be asking who or what will rule this soft kingdom of zombified individuals surviving like bacteria? R.R. Reno makes it clear that the post-WWII consensus is most probably the worldly author of this world I have grown into.

2 people found this helpful

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Strong critical review with weak conclusion

The author does a fine job reviewing and making accessible his select intellectual history of the postwar “open” mind movement. This is the book’s strength. When Reno pivots to his prescriptive response he leaves his scholarly self behind and depends on unsubstantiated and unpersuasive biases. The book is well worth reading for it’s critical review which will lead readers like me to conclude. Contrary to Reno, that openness is desirable for the advanced civilization we all hope America will become.

2 people found this helpful

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Great framework for understanding our current predicament

I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this book. It’s description of the “open society” consensus that formed after the turbulent years of WWI through WWII was something I hadn’t heard of or considered before. However it seems accurate and explains a lot about what has happened since then, and the troubled times we live in now. It also provides some hope in the idea of returning to “the strong gods” that the open society proponents tried to do away with.

The people that have been pushing the open society are basically globalists, but the term “globalist” is such a loaded term now that I don’t like to use it. This book gave me less loaded language to discuss the issue

1 person found this helpful

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Demands your full attention

This is not a book to listen to while you’re driving, making dinner, etc. It demands the listener be fully present, and savor what they are hearing. It’s challenging, and in that I think it is worthwhile.

It was a book that made me think, and has made me want to get the hardcopy, so I can read it and annotate as I go. As I stop and think about it now, it made me wonder where the “Golden Mean of America” is today. People who are not at either of the poles that seem to divide us so much today. It is as if neither side can see anything good in points raised by the other.

And that is not something we can sustain.

I wonder what the answer to the question of What it is we love about our country? would be for each of us, And if each of us has even bothered to ask that question.

This book makes me believe that we should, and work to preserve what it is we love about our nation, and what it is we need to do to improve where we feel we fall short.

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A Second Reading, For The Win

The first time I read this, I was Libertarian and half of what he said didnt even register. Now, going back through, I think this book is more relevant than ever. The resistance to any masculine urge or principle os what defines our age, and I pray it comes to an end.

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Great analysis, less great conclusions

I found the author’s analysis of what he called “the post-war consensus” very enlightening and philosophically fulfilling. It raises many valid questions on the approach to society and its meaning and functions. His conclusions on the return to the “strong gods” of christianity, “family values” and patriotism are less convincing. Of course modern society with its emphasis on individualism and plurality isn’t “against love” and higher ideals do not necessarily have to be those revered in the past. As can be seen in the current war in Ukraine, the liberal values of modern Western society are worth fighting (even, regretfully, dying) for.
But this book is well worth the read anyway. All those who make it through the philosophical underpinnings of this well written thesis are able to draw their own conclusions.

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Excellent History, Weak Conclusion

The first four chapters explain the roots of many major thinkers of what the author correctly labels the "post-war consensus" and are worthwhile. The conclusion in chapter 5, is an uninspired exercise, that is only worthwhile for the inexperienced to wrestle and use reason to conquer. It pulls from historical examples which ought to have been a cautionary tale of the open society, but then pins them as examples of a future of patriotism. The discerning reader will find this tedious. It's a clear indication of an author who can see the truth coming, and the way forward, but desperately clings to a transitory happy medium that has no real ground of affirmation from which to launch a political movement. Further, the author asserts as a premise that the Christian and Jewish Gods are the same; ignoring that the Ein Sof is not God, the Father of Jesus Christ, Eloah. It is ignorant, and a stark contrast to the studious devotion given to chapters 1-4. This is demonstrated again in appeals to Judeo-Christianity, as though those theologies share anything in common, and further asserting a false historical narrative of their unity. In conclusion, while the book is worthwhile, the end was cringeworthy. The author shows clear strengths of distilling information, and equally dismal weaknesses in sifting through and analyzing that data. This was either the product of ignorance, poor thinking, or willful deception; only the author knows.