Patrick Deneen: Liberalism Has Failed

Editor’s Note: Eventually, the woke mob will topple the Statue of Liberty for being offensive after first blowing up Mount Rushmore and the Washington Monument.

As I told Thomas Main, it is widely admitted these days on both the Left and the Right that liberalism has failed. Patrick Deneen recently debated Jonah Goldberg on the subject.


“Most people agree that a defining feature of America is that it is a liberal nation. In a way, that is not true of any other country—most of which have known different forms of political governance and political self-understanding. From its political inception, America has oftentimes been defined by its adherence to liberal philosophy. Conservatives such as George Will and Jonah Goldberg, and liberals such as Yascha Mounk and Barack Obama—for all their differences—believe that America is liberal, and that the way out of our current political brokenness is to restore its liberal foundations. …

These Abrahamic traditions, in their various ways, taught radically different lessons about ourselves: including the belief that “independence” from others and from nature is not the true form of freedom, but the longing that drove Lucifer from heaven; that rights are merely aggressions against others without more fundamental duties and obligations; that human society and government is rightly ordered and directed by natural and eternal laws, and not infinitely malleable according to human caprice.

American liberalism was feasible only because America wasn’t fully liberal. But today, we have become what our liberal philosophy imagined us to be: free of obligation and responsibility to each other, free of duties to past and future generations, masters of nature that we regard as our possession to use and abuse, consumers rather than citizens. …

An older—and truer—conservatism recognized that economic health was essential to human flourishing, but was as wary of too much wealth and too much inequality as it was of too little prosperity.  …

Conservatives of an older tradition measured the health of society not based upon a purely material basis—such as Marx or Goldberg, in their differing ways—but upon the overall health of its institutions and readily available shared decencies, especially to ordinary people. …

Our politics today has become so unsettled and ferocious because liberalism has failed. It failed not because it fell short of its vision of the isolated and autonomous human person, and the effort to construct a society indifferent to questions of the common good—but because it succeeded in doing so.”

I enjoyed how Deneen name-dropped Lucifer there who was the first egalitarian. He talks about an “older” and “truer” tradition of conservatism which is better than conservative liberalism. I also noticed how Tucker Carlson used the word “diabolical” on his show the other night.

The spirit of liberalism is diabolical. It is always either engaged in its project of loosening up the bonds of society, which it calls “freedom,” or tearing down and leveling the social order, which it calls “equality.” It defines “progress” as the success it has had in turning the world upside down.


“Let me start with a concession: Things are not going great right now in America. I feel this needs little elaboration, so I will just assert it. I do so to grant that this is not the ideal time for a conservative like me to disagree with a conservative like Patrick Deneen on the comparative merits and successes of Liberalism.

Now, of course, what we mean by Liberalism here is not progressivism, woke-ism, or anything else your typical right-wing radio host—or left-wing MSNBC host—means by liberalism. That’s why, for clarity’s sake, I’ll use a capital “L” for the Liberalism we associate with John Locke, Adam Smith, David Hume and aspects of the various social transformations that fall under the all-too-capacious catchall label, “the Enlightenment.” (There were many Enlightenments—English, Scottish, French, American and even German—and not all of their contributions were equal or necessarily positive. But I’ll use the catchall term regardless, for the sake of simplicity.) …”

Jonah Goldberg defends conservative liberalism.

He basically echoes Deirdre McCloskey’s arguments which I responded to last year.

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  1. In reality Liberal Democracy is neither truly liberal or truly democratic but merely a façade behind which a hostile transnationalist elites rules for the globalism.

    • @Waspforce…

      Yes, time has revealed that, in the United States of America, liberalism has put a polite face on a country that has become ruled over by an alien racket that steals it blind – from it’s money and physical assets to it’s culture and country.

  2. The Ministry of Plenty states that black unemployment numbers are better than ever. And th economy is booming despite cities being razed to the ground.

    The Ministry of Peace tells us that Russia and China are our real enemies. Going to war to destroy these evil regimes will sanctify and purify us all.

    The Ministry of Truth declares that George Floyd was murdered by evil cops and the the rioting that followed was simply peaceful protesting. Don’t believe your lying eyes!

    The Ministry of Love knows the real impediment to peace and co-existence in America is the racism and intolerance deeply embedded in White souls. Even the souls of White Children!

  3. Regarding Jefferson’s ‘all men are created equal’, I think this needs to be explained in a simple way. Jefferson was merely ‘assuming’ the audience reference context, which at the time did not even need to be said =

    That context being ‘my society’, a society of Europeans, in 1776 mostly from Britain but with some others, led by an educated class … Europeans who had become quasi-united for centuries under European Christianity and the use of Latin as a lingua franca, aside from the majority in deeper bonds through the British heritage

    Jefferson would quickly have agreed that, e.g;, Africans in a future Liberia, could also declare themselves equal … but what wasn’t ‘equal’ for Jefferson, was the relationship of two radically different societies living cheek-by-jowl. Jefferson would not have expected ‘equality’ for a group of Americans settling themselves on the North African Barbary Coast, either.

    • Your observations on the context of the pernicious phrase “. . . All Men are Created Equal . . .” is excellent but nevertheless, the Left has misused that phrase as a club to beat us for a long time. It is similar to the Statue of Liberty being retconned into a Statue of Perpetual Immigration to support the lie that the U.S. is a ‘nation of immigrants’ instead of a settler nation with later immigration, almost exclusively from Europe until 1965.

  4. Interesting piece on AmRen about how the demonisation of whites in the USA, is actually following a similar playbook to what happened in South Africa

    Despite USA whites still being a majority, tho barely … but the white position is limited by:
    – Lack of loyalty of many women who follow the media narrative as to who is dominant now
    – Lack of loyalty of the ‘shitelib’ white male kissing up to try to save their jobs etc
    – The traditional inability of whites to unite and get past the ‘universalist’ thinking style of their heritage, and realise they are under threat of destruction

    Here’s the AmRen piece

    • “Lack of loyalty of many women”

      The lack of loyalty of men to protect our society,
      expelling and keeping orcs out of our nation, keeping the tribe of evil out of our press.

      Men must lead and protect. Ordained by nature!

  5. Jonah Goldberg has been more reasonably since his obviously wrong stance on the Iraq War. And on that he admitted that it was trying to be against the Democrats that took him that way. He’s no Ben Shapiro and certainly no Milo.

    • Jonah is consistently pro Israel-first, both in the Near East and around the world. This explains his “positions”. Being pro Iraq War II served Israeli interests in 2003 but now that Iraq is quasi-occupied by the U.S. (the assassination of Qasem Soleimani is an example of this) and the war turned out to be disastrous for the U.S. he has the luxury of being “against” the war now.

      If circumstances were to change again such that Israel needed another war against Iraq Jonah would be for another war against Iraq. Jonah believed Gen. Soleimani “needed killing” because he was the running the proxy war in Syria against Israel. U.S. interests play second fiddle to the interests of “our greatest ally”.

  6. However despite my previous comment, I do think liberalism, the capital L liberalism, not the new liberalism, but the old liberalism, is outdated and proving itself to be not capable of meeting the needs of the average person. But I still consider Goldberg usually to be readable, not a total moron.

  7. Liberalism has evolved into a pernicious ideology leaving its adherents powerless against those threatening their very survival.

  8. Modem “democracy” is like a garden that you plant every morning, and plow up by noon, and complain you aren’t getting anything from it. Jonah Goldberg couldn’t get a croo from weeds, since thats all he ever sowed…..

  9. “Holly” wood screwed up again. There is no rock and coastline like that anywhere near Manhattan. What did it do, float through the Panama Canal?

    I think that monkey movie was a clear warning largely ignored. I think Planet of the Apes, part VI, is live and may not have an ending.

    • @Snowhitey

      You’re a smart one. That photo was taken at Malibu, near Zuma Beach.
      Planet of the Apes wasn’t far from there, it’s called Compton.

      • Much of the black areas of LA like Watts are now Mexican. This is where the first big riots of the 1960’s started too, sort of a proto-BLM.

        There is also in physics something called the Compton Effect which involves photon scattering when struck by an electron. The other Compton Effect is the scattering of white people out of places like Compton as blacks move in.

  10. “monkey movie was a clear warning largely ignored. ”

    Awwwh, The distributors knew the audience was too damn stupid to see the obvious.

    More like rubbing the puppies nose in it.

  11. I dispute that socialism or egalitarianism as such is “demonic” (that “Lucifer was the first egalitarian”); rather, it is selfishness, and the love of money (the root of all evil) and capitalism, that is demonic. To share with, serve and uplift (“level”) others is truly Christian. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” We will all stand before the judgment seat to give an account of how we treated others, for our personal gain or out of love for their good.

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