What is it about?

Patrick Deneen's work is reviewed and expanded around liberalism central understanding of the modern individual's right of choice irrespective of "thick" relationships and community connections forming and informing how and what a specific person chooses. Albert O. Hirschman's historical genealogy is brought into the discussion concerning the political arguments around the reductive view of the modern person as a self-interested individual who decides based on gain. This view of the person is indispensably central to modern capitalist culture. Both Deneen and Hirschman see this truncated understanding of the human as fostered by the state, I trace the "common sense" notion of the self-interested individual beyond Hirschman's period of inquiry to the present. Deneen laments liberal individualism leads to a breakdown of of committed social webs and any real democratic character found only in the context of community. It creates an opening for tyranny.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

The global hegemony of liberal democracy is breaking down with deleterious effects seen world-wide in dramatically undemocratic fashion as global crises and unrest abound. More liberalism will only fan the flames. A renewed perspective on what it means to be human outside of the liberal order is paramount.


Deneen's work can be read from different perspectives. My read and use of Deneen is: Capitalism and modernity as integrally linked spawned and nurtured our modern self-understanding as humans, drastically hallowing out who and what we are as people, thereby limiting our capacity for self-governance and tackling the monumental issues facing us. The modern liberal idea of the person serves capital and it's elites at the expense of the social and our capacities for problem-solving from "below." Flourishing human futures will require cooperation, reciprocity, mutuality, and more, all very much inherent in being human. However, to speak of them in light of liberalism's individualism is incongruous. Capitalism and liberalism must come to end and a very different self-understanding fostered.

Mr Steven Foster

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The King Is Dead; Long Live the Dead King!DeneenPatrick J, Why Liberalism Failed (Politics and Culture). New Haven, CN and London: Yale University Press, 2018. Pp. 225 (including index), $30.00 (hbk), $18.00 (pbk). ISBN: 0300223447, 9780300223446., Critical Sociology, May 2018, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0896920518778761.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page