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Has Liberalism Failed?

  • Whitney Humanities Center 53 Wall Street New Haven, CT, 06510 United States (map)

Patrick J. Deneen (University of Notre Dame), Speaker

Ross Douthat (The New York Times; Elm Institute), Moderator
Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig (Washington Post), Respondent
Bryan Garsten (Yale University), Respondent
Samuel Moyn (Yale University; Yale Law School), Respondent

Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth 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. In Why Liberalism Failed, 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.

Patrick J. Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His previous books include The Odyssey of Political Theory, Democratic Faith, and a number of edited volumes. He lives in South Bend, IN.

Earlier Event: March 1
The Crisis in Modernity
Later Event: April 9
Religion and the Liberal Regime