Patrick Deneen says liberalism has failed. Is he right?

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Liberalism, write Patrick Deneen, "has been for modern Americans like water for a fish, an encompassing political ecosystem in which we have swum, unaware of its existence.”

Deneen, a political theorist at Notre Dame, isn’t talking about the liberalism of the left, the liberalism of Elizabeth Warren or Nancy Pelosi. He’s talking about the liberalism that drives both the left and the right, the one that elevates individual flourishing over groups, families, places, nature. That’s the liberalism that is wrecking our societies and our happiness, Deneen says, and while the left and the right often disagree on how to achieve it, they're both disastrously bought into its core ideas.

Deneen’s book, Why Liberalism Failed, has become a quiet sensation, gaining plaudits from conservative pundits and even showing up on Barack Obama’s reading list. His is a radical critique, and while I disagree with much of it, the things it gets right are important.

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