Suicide of the West

How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy
Narrated by: Jonah Goldberg
Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.6 out of 5 stars (1,212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • 

An urgent argument that America and other democracies are in peril because they have lost the will to defend the values and institutions that sustain freedom and prosperity.   

“Epic and debate-shifting.” (David Brooks, New York Times)   

Only once in the last 250,000 years have humans stumbled upon a way to lift ourselves out of the endless cycle of poverty, hunger, and war that defines most of history. If democracy, individualism, and the free market were humankind’s destiny, they should have appeared and taken hold a bit earlier in the evolutionary record. The emergence of freedom and prosperity was nothing short of a miracle.    

As Americans we are doubly blessed, because the radical ideas that made the miracle possible were written not just into the Constitution but in our hearts, laying the groundwork for our uniquely prosperous society. Those ideas are:   

  • Our rights come from God, not from the government.  
  • The government belongs to us; we do not belong to it.
  • The individual is sovereign. We are all captains of our own souls, not bound by the circumstances of our birth.
  • The fruits of our labors belong to us.

In the last few decades, these political virtues have been turned into vices. As we are increasingly taught to view our traditions as a system of oppression, exploitation, and privilege, the principles of liberty and the rule of law are under attack from left and right. For the West to survive, we must renew our sense of gratitude for what our civilization has given us and rediscover the ideals and habits of the heart that led us out of the bloody muck of the past - or back to the muck we will go. 

©2018 Jonah Goldberg (P)2018 Random House Audio

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How did I get here? What are these scars on my wrists?

Masterfully diagnoses the crossroads to which the best civilization that humanity has ever known has come to. Western Civilization, Goldberg argues, is not about oppressing minorities — or any of the other slanders that the modern Left has hurled at it — it is the singular accomplishment of the human race. It, more than anything has led to “happy, prosperous, meaningful lives.” And now we face the choice: return to a “natural” state of foraging and fighting, or adopt GRATITUDE for what our forefathers (and mothers) bequeathed us and build upon it, as they did. Goldberg has done a fantastic job of presenting where we are, how we got here, and where we could go from here (both prudently and otherwise). If I could induce people, especially millennials, to want to read any book from cover to cover, this would be it.

13 people found this helpful

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No matter your politics, read this book

I'm generally to the left of Goldberg (so you know where this comes from) and I often disagree with many of the positions he takes, but find his writing well thought out and incredibly clear and interesting. I think it is critical for anyone who cares about the current state of the country and politics to read this book. Better to listen to it, as aside from a few idiosyncratic pronunciations (for instance, he can't say "globalist" without sounding mocking), Goldberg's delivery is superb and engaging such that you can tell he truly cares about the topic. It's much better than having some random narrator deliver it.
The book builds a clear case for its thesis. It starts with a description of what made western liberal democracy so successful, and continues on to a theory on how we've gotten to today's climate and what can be done about it. While it does make some strong proclamations at the end, that's the purpose of such a treatise. Whether you agree with him or not the case is well made and any discussion of the state of American Democracy today would be wise to include, if not be founded on, this book, whether to build further or, as is my preference, to argue a somewhat different conclusion.

11 people found this helpful

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Put some gratitude in your attitude

As is the case with his other books, Goldberg lays out his case in exacting, well researched detail, namely, that western liberal democracy and capitalism are flukes in the natural order and must be actively maintained and fought for, lest the weeds of human nature retake and reclaim. The west will not be slain by an external enemy, but without constant struggle, it will succumb to suicide.

17 people found this helpful

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Jonahs and his followers have tried to cause the suicide

Establishment types like Jonah are the real destroyers. He and his friends have been giving away the store for decades and destroyed the middle class thinking they know best. Thank goodness for populism, love of country, and making America great again. This rebirth came about after middle America said we have had it with the Bushes, Clinton’s, and Obama telling us that we are the problem in the world. Letting America pay both financially and with the human toll. People in Washington like Jonah look down at us. I may be worth 30 million but the fact that I love this country, don’t trust the government, don’t think we should have an open border, and don’t believe in Man made global warming makes me a idiot in Jonahs perverted eyes. His book is looking at things the way and his elitist friends want America to stay.

3 people found this helpful

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Reasons to be grateful for America

a great way to u understand the history of America in the guides of what it's likelihood and accomplishments

3 people found this helpful

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Unforgettable.

Jonah Goldberg is The Great Unifier. This book is just what we need to redirect the American conversation. Brilliantly argued and backed by a fascinating history lesson, the author reminds us what humility, gratitude, and principle look like, and why without them, we risk losing what makes us truly great. I do not agree with every little argument in this book, but the approach is what matters, and makes this book nothing short of inspiring. The conversation doesn't end here, it begins here.

7 people found this helpful

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we Disagree

Jonah & I agree on many of the facts he lists but the interpretation of them defines our differences. We both read Pinker, Haigt et. al. but understand them differently and so, see the world from a different vantage point- perhaps like Haigt's construct of the inate differences of values we hold. Goldberg somehow interprets the rise of man's fortune in the last 300 years as clear evidence of the magic of Capitalism, even though he points out that money, loans, markets etc have been around foor thousands of years. Steven Pinker's point that this clear and obvious advance has been on the back of the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution is barely acknowledged by JG. But his view that Identity Politics and Tribalism is growing and present a growing danger to America and liberal democracy is shared by all.

2 people found this helpful

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Challenge yourself in what you believe

This book has opened my mind to many areas throughout life. Not only in the political arena but also in a cultural level. Love the history lessons throughout the entirety of the book. One thing that really sticks is nationalism and progressivism are populism which are driven by feelings but more by resentment. It pins “us” against “them” and if we believe our constitution will last these emotional responses then we’re naive. “A Catholic viewed it as a threat when a Protestant held thrown and now we are heading that we when we view the opposing party a threat as well. We need each other to live in peace and harmony but we must have the conversations and not the emotional outbursts. Proverbs 16:32 (AMP): 32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, he who rules his [own] spirit than he who takes a city.

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Transcendent instant classic

Jonah’s exposition on human nature, tribalism, and “The Miracle” should be a must read for every high school and college student. However, this book becomes an transcendent instant classic with his argument (with appropriate passion) about the indispensable virtue of gratitude. I will be buying a copy for each of my children. I hope it will influence their lives like I believe it will mine.

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Strong Recommendations with Caveats

Given this is a political philosophy book, it is probably best to start with my beliefs. I am not aligned with a political party, have voted for Republicans, Democrats and even a Libertarian for president over the last 20+ years. I have generally described myself as a capitalist, moderate Republican with libertarian tendencies which is currently more aligned with the Democratic party. Finally, here is a book that describes conservatism as more than anti-abortion, anti-government, anti-liberal and pro-Republican. The book and its arguments are respectful and at times gives credit to opposing philosophies. There are core philosophies and logic behind all the. This book tries to explain and persuade. Even in today’s world, a good discussion is important even if you do not agree with any or all of it. The book starts with a pseudo scientific exploration into human history and the evolution of culture as background. This historical foray matches most science discussions and rings true. Mr. Goldberg then slogs through a detailed discussion of Locke and Rousseau. I do not know whether it was mind numbing to me because I did not have enough historical knowledge, it was hard to follow in an audio book where you cannot easily refer back a paragraph or page, or simply because it was boring. Regardless, it does not matter because it is not particularly pertinent to the rest of the book. The remainder of the book explores where society and the US is today and has been in the recent past. He does finish with a flurry of religion but that can be adored or ignored. Mr. Goldberg does a very good job of critiquing liberalism, and I found that my philosophy aligns more with conservatism than I would have guessed. At times, he critiques and lauds both sides and is very educational. In my opinion, he at times cherry picks information and uses correlation to falsely suggest causation in order to argue points and, even then, he is not always persuasive. In the end, my takeaway of his argument is that we should be conservatives and capitalists because all the alternatives lead to places that are much worse. What the book does not have is a vision for how success of the conservative ideas would look. In that, it is still more of a philosophy of no as in no government. For example, I agree that government safety nets are not always great programs and do not necessarily help with the self-esteem of the recipients. However, there is no description of what it looks like without them. Are we expected to simply let those people fall through the cracks. The inferences that I took were that he expects the state, local and other smaller groups to make up the difference. There is not discussion of what to do when this does not happen. While I would not agree, I could accept the statement that he believes this philosophy will improve the lives of 50, 60 or 90% but we are going to simply ignore the rest and that is a tradeoff with which we will have to live while striving to make it better. However, the omission to even discuss these type of concerns are glaring and are certainly not inspirational. Having the author read the book was very good. His reading tone matches the text and you can tell where he is really passionate. He clearly believes he is the smartest guy in the room and cannot believe how others disagree with him. If that bothers you, this book will as well. However, it is a good discussion and can give people on all sides of the political spectrum food for thought. You do not have to agree with him to learn from him.

1 person found this helpful