Why Liberalism Failed
Has liberalism failed because it has succeeded?
"Why Liberalism Failed offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel, issues that liberal democracies ignore at their own peril."—President Barack Obama
"Deneen's book is valuable because it focuses on today's central issue. The important debates now are not about policy. They are about the basic values and structures of our social order."—David Brooks, New York Times
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 his provocative book and will do in this lecture, 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.
Patrick J. Deneen is Professor of Political Science and holds the David A. Potenziani Memorial Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. From 1995-1997 he was Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency. From 1997-2005 he was Assistant Professor of Government at Princeton University. From 2005-2012 he was Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, before joining the faculty of Notre Dame in Fall 2012. He has delivered invited lectures around the world.
Deneen was awarded the A.P.S.A.'s Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Theory in 1995, and an honorable mention for the A.P.S.A.'s Best First Book Award in 2000. He has been awarded research fellowships from Princeton University, Earhart Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Virginia.
His teaching and writing interests focus on the history of political thought, American political thought, liberalism, conservatism, and constitutionalism.
Deneen's books include three edited volumes on democracy and four authored books titled The Odyssey of Political Theory (2000), Democratic Faith (2005), Conserving America? Thoughts on Present Discontents (2016), and Why Liberalism Failed (2018).
Patrick J. Deneen, Why Liberalism Failed (Yale University Press, 2018)
WCHP Lecture Hall in Parker Pavilion
716 Stevens Avenue
Portland, ME 04103