Life After Liberalism

Bill Green – @longlooking

In his piece, “Is There Life After Liberalism?” (New York Times – January 14), Ross Douthat says “sometimes you can’t renew an order, as ours clearly needs renewal, until the political imagination becomes capable of imagining and desiring something different.”

Douthat criticizes political theorist Patrick Deneen for shying away from such imagination in his new book Why Liberalism Failed just urging a rededication to localism and community.

But an alternative to “liberalism”–“the liberal-democratic-capitalist matrix we all inhabit,” as Douthat after Deneen understands it–can only be imagined after greater dedication to “localism and community.” Otherwise it’s top-down thinking all over again: liberalism manqué. A true alternative takes time and cannot be defined altogether in advance. It can only grow out of civic values, interpersonal commitments, and social engagement without which it will prove groundless and aggravate the current malaise.

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