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From one of the country’s most admired political thinkers, an urgent wake-up call to American liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of our future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.
In The Once and Future Liberal, Mark Lilla offers an impassioned, tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations. Although there have been Democrats in the White House, and some notable policy achievements, for nearly 40 years the vision that Ronald Reagan offered—small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism—has remained the country’s dominant political ideology. And the Democratic Party has offered no convincing competing vision in response.
Instead, as Lilla argues, American liberalism fell under the spell of identity politics, with disastrous consequences. Driven originally by a sincere desire to protect the most vulnerable Americans, the left has now unwittingly balkanized the electorate, encouraged self-absorption rather than solidarity, and invested its energies in social movements rather than in party politics.
With dire consequences. Lilla goes on to show how the left’s identity-focused individualism insidiously conspired with the amoral economic individualism of the Reaganite right to shape an electorate with little sense of a shared future and near-contempt for the idea of the common good. In the contest for the American imagination, liberals have abdicated.
Now they have an opportunity to reset. The left is motivated, and the Republican Party, led by an unpredictable demagogue, is in ideological disarray. To seize this opportunity, Lilla insists, liberals must concentrate their efforts on recapturing our institutions by winning elections. The time for hectoring is over. It is time to reach out and start persuading people from every walk of life and in every region of the country that liberals will stand up for them. We must appeal to – but also help to rebuild – a sense of common feeling among Americans, and a sense of duty to each other.
A fiercely-argued, no-nonsense book, enlivened by Lilla’s acerbic wit and erudition, The Once and Future Liberal is essential reading for our momentous times.
|Title||:||The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics|
|Number of Pages||:||160 pages|
August 17, 2017
A slim incendiary volume that expands upon Lilla's infamous November 2016 NYTimes op-ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism." It may be impossible to read this book neutrally -- and, as a liberal historian deeply disenchanted with the American Left, Lilla certainly writes with the all fervor of a Ca...
August 18, 2017
Mark Lilla has been a bad, bad boy. He has dared to point out the feet of clay upon which stand King Liberal, and he, like Cassandra, will not be thanked. Still, this short book is an excellent political analysis, and it points the way, if only loosely, to a wholly new order of things, thus start...
August 26, 2017
My tepid rating has as much to do with my own weariness as with anything Lilla writes. At the most general level – and there's not much specific in this short book – I agree with Lilla's argument.What's extraordinary – and appalling – about the past four decades of our history is that our politic...
September 08, 2017
Wow! Between this and "Fragile by Design - The Political Origins of Banking Crises & Scarce Design," by Charles W. Calomiris and Stephen H. Haber, it is hard to offer any defense of the performance of Baby Boomer progressives.
What Lilla misses, in evaluating the rise of Trump, is the unwillin...
September 05, 2017
The general message was well-worth hearing although some of the points regarding the Roosevelt/Reagan dispositions were difficult to understand. I still gave it a four as I felt the points the author was trying to make were well worth listening to. As an individual who identifies as 'liberal'(mor...
August 24, 2017
A bracing repudiation by a centrist liberal of the identity politics that have engulfed the political left. Mark Lilla argues that activist liberalism's obsession with identity (women, black, LGBTQ, etc...) has handicapped and hindered the Democrats' ability to offer a broad-range vision of the c...
September 04, 2017
An immensely important and challenging work.
Mark Lilla expands upon the argument he first presented last November in his New York Times Op-Ed, "The End of Identity Liberalism." He argues that by focusing narcissistically upon identity politics (gay rights, BLM, women's rights, etc) to the exclusi...
September 14, 2017
Lilla's thesis is that rather than developing a "fresh political vision of the country's shared destiny....liberals threw themselves into the movement politics of...racial, gender and sexual identity...losing a sense of what we share as citizens and what binds us as a nation." The "increasingly...
August 27, 2017
He is a liberal who understands the "we" as a national entity for core necessity within successful political movements. Having incredible insight and also applications for this "we" surety in the American past, he STILL does not role model its core connotation.
Regardless all liberals or progress...
September 03, 2017
Lilla is right about the problem--the left does not have a coherent ideology to appeal to a broad swath of people. Moreover, the progressive/labor voice has been dormant and needs to be reactivated. But he's wrong in his analysis of causation. The problem was not caused by university professors a...