Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed

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Mike talks to Patrick Deneen, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. In his book Why Liberalism Failed, Deneen argues not only that liberalism has failed (which you probably picked up from the title) but more importantly, he argues that it failed because it was based on a fundamentally unsound understanding of human beings.

In this talk, Mike and Professor Deneen discuss the individual autonomy, liberalism & capitalism, how liberalism’s success led to its failure, virtue ethics & Judeo-Christian values, education, Alexis de Tocqueville, Wendell Berry, and lots more.

Patrick Deneen on Twitter

Recommended Reading:

The World Is Better Than Ever. Why Are We Miserable? (Andrew Sullivan on Steven Pinker and Patrick Deneen)
Can Democracy Save Us? (Ryszard Legutko’s review of Why Liberalism Failed.)
The Dead End of the Left? Augusto Del Noce’s Critique of Modern Politics.

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. Christopher Lasch
The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics. Christopher Lasch
The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. Christopher Lasch
The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Ryszard Legutko
The Crisis of Modernity. Augusto Del Noce
The Age of Secularization. Augusto Del Noce
The World-Ending Fire. Wendell Berry
Democracy in America. Alexis de Tocqueville

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2 thoughts on “Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed”

  1. I very much enjoy the Politics Guys and I respect Mike and Jay’s opinions even when I disagree. This is more a questions than a comment on Mike’s interview with Patrick Deneen. I listened to the interview on the Politics guys, I have listened to other interviews with Professor Deneen about his book and checked the book out from the library and read it. Mike is clearly very impressed with this book.

    My question is why is he so impressed? Maybe it is because I work in the technology sector and approach problems from a quantitative perspective if at all possible but I found the book and Prof. Deneen’s arguments in interviews so completely unpersuasive I think I must be missing something.

    Calling a system a failure that has lifted billions of people out of poverty and improved the recognition of the rights of people of different races, genders, and religions because there are still serious problems in society seemed entirely unconvincing to me.

    If Mike or Jay or anyone else would like t point out what I am missing I will try my best to listen with an open mind.

    1. I think that’s a valid point, and one I believe I asked him about in the interview. My take on this is that it’s easy to go too far and throw the baby out with the bathwater, but that his central point – an ideology that valorizes the individual to the extent that liberalism does sets itself up for failure – is a valid one. Many of the people who espouse views similar to Deneen point to how other elements in our culture – largely religion – helped to curb the individualistic excesses of liberalism, but with religion in decline, liberalism has free reign with nothing to check it. That seems fairly spot-on to me. -Mike

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