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Publisher's Summary

Has liberalism failed because it has succeeded?

Of the three dominant ideologies of the 20th 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 political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, 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 favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual 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 failure.

©2018 Patrick J. Deneen (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Why Liberalism Failed

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

a fine idea stuffed in a dead horse and beat

self satisfied and needlessly verbose, the entire premise, while interesting, could be boiled easily down to a couple hundred words. the lack of useful or even insightful conclusions, though one is nominally attempted, is additionally disappointing.

a worthy idea as food for thought, but a waste of words in this format, and hard to listen to due to the overwrought academic prose

13 people found this helpful

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The by product of successful liberalism

Part of Obama's summer reading list, I would highlight a few key paraphrases.

"The near unanimity of political views represented on college campuses is echoed by the omnipresent belief that an education must be economically practical, culminating in a high-paying job in a city populated by like-minded college graduates who will continue to reinforce their keen outrage over inequality while enjoying its bounteous fruits."

"liberalism has drawn down on a preliberal inheritance and resources that at once sustained liberalism but which it cannot replenish. The loosening of social bonds in nearly every aspect of life - familial, neighbourly, communal, religious, even national - reflects the advancing logic of liberalism and is the source of its deepest instability"

Think of it as a call of action and for us to understand how far we have come and where to go from here.

5 people found this helpful

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Robot narrator

Good material in the book, but the narration is unlistenable. Sounds like a dull robot

4 people found this helpful

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Why a critique of liberalism failed

Deneen seems to argue that the yuval harari’s arrow of history — to the extent that our governance has become more and more universal from small band of hunter-gatherers to tribe to city state to world governance — is a matter of individual choice to subscribe to liberalism. It is not. It Is a consequence of problems (nuclear war, pollution, global warming, disease) becoming global.

There are so many false assertions and predicates I don’t have time to catalog them all but I found something on every page either so banal and non-specific as to be meaningless (self sacrifice is on the wane. I think the first writer who ever wrote said the same) or if specific, unproven (communal ties are fading — really?)

Here is one example: he seems to blame liberalism for man’s “conquest” of nature. No. We have always been the cooperative “engineering animal” that has modified our surroundings, (and now with crispr our interior) which is why this one fairly weak hairless ape became an apex predator on earth. Perhaps this has had tragic consequences or not depending on your outlook but the point is it’s not liberalism’s fault.

I didn’t begin this book as someone who felt dead set on liberalism at all. But he almost talked me into it!

Furthermore he offers no real alternative. It amounts to an Edvard Munch scream. Empty.

3 people found this helpful

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Current Events Seen in A Different Light

A challenge to the dominate social & political framework of both the Democratic and the Republican parties. An author to follow during the next several political cycles.

2 people found this helpful

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Must Read!

This book paints a clear picture of where we were, where we are, and where we are going in American culture. The author covers great thinkers and writers from Plato and Socrates to James Madison and Wendell Berry. It is a grave warning that we are getting closer to the end of democracy as we know it.

2 people found this helpful

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Smart man w/ a grim view, but insufficient support

The author has an interesting and surprising claim, and withsome merit. I gained many new interesting insights and appreciate the book for that. However Deneen lumps classic liberalism together with modern progressive liberalism and declares them both failures. He also lumps conservatism and libertarianism in with classic liberalism. He gives some examples for progressive liberalism but really only one for classic liberalism in which he declares free market ideas to be a failure. He specifically points to the 2008 mortgage crisis and financial meltdown as a market failure, but many economists think that was substantially due to government meddling (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The narration was also flat, almost monotone. I hung onto the book for most of the chapters, hoping Deneen would support his case with facts and examples. His ideas are intriguing and flow against most modern streams of thought. But I gave up on the audible book just short of his conclusion. It was too much work to listen for too little gain. Still. I'm glad I encountered Mr. Deneen. But I wouldn't recommend the book to a friend.

13 people found this helpful

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Liberty After Liberalism

This book asks the big questions and gets to some plausible answers by the end, too. If you want to know what it means to be free today, give it a listen.

4 people found this helpful

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Not the liberalism is what failed

Liberalism did fail in the US for many reasons but not in most EU counties. The book lists a bunch of cliches and nothing new. On top of that the reader sounds like a traveling preacher.

1 person found this helpful

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Is he talking about Liberalism?

The author seems to confuse Classical Liberalism and Reformed Liberalism. His book seems mainly about the former as represented by the Republican Party than the latter which is represented by the Democratic Party. I'm disappointed because the book's title is misleading. Also he goes on this weird nostalgia about the past ignoring all the evil that was committed back then. This entire book seems to be about bashing today and longing for yesterday, which is typical of reactionaries.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hedgehog
  • 05-05-19

What happens if history did not end?

A culture war. Or perhaps a cultural v acultural war. Good contribution to the debate.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tigist
  • 08-13-21

Reading so dreadful it ruined the book

As hard as I tried i couldn't listen beyond the second hour of this audiobook. The reader is truly dreadful. Try the print version instead.

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  • Eddie
  • 01-15-20

Food for thought

An iteresting thesis that was powerfully argued. I found the narration a tad monotonous though

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  • Rebecca Oliver
  • 12-29-19

Stressful reader.

Frantic reader. Stressful to listen to. Seems that pauses were edited down so the he appeared not to be thinking about what he was reading. Otherwise, a very thought provoking book.

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  • Benjamin Tanzer
  • 02-13-21

He’s right but it’s terrible

The performance is so stilted and off cadence. It’s like the narrator has zero familiarity with the text, almost like a robot. It’s absolutely impossible to listen to.

For the bit I did listen to, the author doesn’t really present any new arguments. If you’ve been paying attention you’d know basically everything he said. If you weren’t paying attention or were a hyper liberal then nothing he says is constructed in a way that will change your mind.

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  • Mr. John A. Calabro
  • 12-18-18

Is Liberalism going to last the test of time?

This book will challenge your ideas on Liberal philosophy and government. The idea of the end of time, that Liberalism was going to be the end after the Berlin Wall. Well now is facing many oppositions and splits to its order

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  • Charlieobree
  • 09-11-18

Amazing Book

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants or needs to understand our current society in the West. I liked that it critically analysed our western liberal society. I liked how it looked the problems of the left and right sides of politics. A must read for anyone who wants to be involved in politics, religion, social science, education, economics, business or community development.