Claremont Senior Fellow and Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, Charles R. Kesler, Jonah Goldberg, and Patrick Deneen discussed “Is Liberalism Failing?” at an event moderated by Vincent Philip Muñoz and hosted by the Constitutional Studies Department at the University of Notre Dame on October 11, 2018. Video is available here.

Last updated October 12, 2018

* * *


Dennis Hale and Marc Landy reviewed Patrick Deneen’s new book, Why Liberalism Failed, in the Summer, 2018 issue of the Claremont Review of Books in an essay entitled “Blame the Fathers.

At Minding the Campus, William Voegeli, Senior Editor of the Claremont Review of Books, reviewed Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed in his article entitled: “A New Book Takes on 500 Years of Modern Liberalism.”

At the Claremont Review of Books, Robert R. Reilly argued that Deneen “cobbles together parts of two sentences and creates a new one that supports his own critique, creating a Madisonian strawman to indict the founding.” For an alternative account, Reilly recommended Thomas G. West’s The Political Theory of the American Founding, reviewed last year in the CRB by Vincent Munoz. On the Public Discourse, Deneen compared Reilly’s criticism to the charge Socrates faced in Athens of corrupting the youth, urging “a real revival of Catholic political thought in America.” Reilly retorted that the Founders must not have “set up a republic to vitiate the virtue on which its existence depended.”

Other Responses:

In The American Conservative, Rod Dreher said Patrick Deneen’s new book Why Liberalism Failed is “the most important political book of the year.” Deneen levels an up-to-date Catholic critique of liberalism that extends to the Founding. “Only when individuals are rootless, culture-less, history-less and context-less,” he writes, “do we realize the ends prescribed by our regime. And yet we don’t realize that we have been shaped in just this way because we understand our condition to be that of freedom,” even though “the invisible architecture of the regime continues to exert its shaping force.” In America, he continues, referencing James Madison’s words in Federalist 10, “the citizenry increasingly conforms to the stated aims of the Constitutional order, its first object being the protection and encouragement of the ‘diversity of faculties.’”

“In a time of growing inequality, accelerating change, and increasing disillusionment with the liberal democratic order we’ve known for the past few centuries, I found this book thought-provoking.” —Barack Obama

At The New York Times: “If Liberalism is Dead, What Comes Next?” Jennifer Szalai; “How Democracies Perish,” David Brooks; “Is There Life After Liberalism?” Ross Douthat; “The Political Scientist Giving the Art World Something to Think About,” Scott Reyburn

“Has the Operating System for the Western World Crashed?” Park McDougald, New York Magazine

is Assistant Editor at The American Mind. A PhD student at Hillsdale College, he is a 2012 alumnus of the Claremont Institute's Publius Fellowship.

More Thoughts


Four Things Every American Should Know About the Declaration of Independence

Every American knows that July 4th marks the day, 243 years ago, that the Continental Congress adopted a declaration asserting independence from British rule. Unfortunately, that’s about all we seem to remember. And every month brings new evidence that Americans don’t know their history, and that, unsurprisingly, colleges and universities aren’t teaching it. When the…


GOP Senators Are Blowing It on Free Speech

Republican Senators are increasingly talking about the suppression of free speech on college campuses, but they refuse to actually do anything about it. We need real free speech protections in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act—protections that lead colleges to change their policies and threaten serious penalties if they don’t. Earlier this year, the National…


Forgetting the Founders: The 2020 Democratic Field

A long line of suitors in the 2020 presidential election is forming, with each would-be-president fighting to interpret the Constitution to fit their political agenda. Bernie Sanders is at it again, attempting to read a universal right to healthcare into the Constitution, while Kamala Harris seeks to alter campaign finance laws “For the People.” No…