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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...
December 07, 2017
THE ONCE AND FUTURE LIBERAL is a short polemic written for a politically liberal audience with the goal of reinvigorating the electoral prospects of the Democratic Party in the United States. ONCE AND FUTURE was written in response to Hillary Clinton's surprising loss last November. It is most de...
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 25, 2017
Fact: There are currently 34 Republican state Governors.
Fact: There are currently 32 states in which Republicans control both houses of Congress (there's also weird ol' Nebraska, which has only one house of Congress... Republicans control that one, too, of course).
Fact: There are Republican major...
September 23, 2017
I imagine this book will be mocked by many. However, Lilla's call for our politics to think and feel through the lens of "citizenship" could be an amelioration for our discourse. Doubt enters when we ask from where will this mood originate.
I am not sure Lilla's argument will win his party over. B...
December 09, 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...
August 31, 2017
If Al Gore had not already taken the title, Mark Lilla could have easily called his book 'An Inconvenient Truth.'
'The Once and Future Liberal' is a damning indictment of modern liberalism's infatuation with identity politics and its compulsion to segment and hyphenate Americans.
Lilla, himself a...
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...