Published Humanitas, Volume XXXIII, Nos. 1 & 2, 2020

Why Liberalism Failed, by Patrick J. Deneen. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018. 248 pp. $30 cloth. 264 pp. $18 paper.

In 1949, an iconic book labeled communism “the god that failed.” Now the failure of another ideology is highlighted by another book, one that might, perhaps, become iconic. The difference between the two cases is, however, vast. In the U.S. and the West generally, there was nothing especially controversial—outside of particular circles—about condemning communism in 1949. The god Patrick Deneen treats, however, is liberalism, widely seen as the ideology of the contemporary Western world. Indeed, liberalism has been…

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