From one of the most internationally admired political thinkers, a controversial polemic on the failures of identity politics and what comes next for the left — in America and beyond.
Following the shocking results of the US election of 2016, public intellectuals across the globe offered theories and explanations, but few were met with such vitriol, panic, and debate as Mark Lilla’s. The Once and Future Liberal is a passionate plea to liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of the future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.
Driven by a sincere desire to protect society’s most vulnerable, the left has unwittingly balkanized the electorate, encouraged self-absorption rather than solidarity, and invested its energies in social movements rather than party politics. Identity-focused individualism has insidiously conspired with amoral economic individualism to shape an electorate with little sense of a shared future and near-contempt for the idea of the common good.
Now is the time to re-build a sense of common feeling and purpose, and a sense of duty to one another. A fiercely argued, important book, enlivened by acerbic wit and erudition, The Once and Future Liberal is essential reading for our times.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not a book for centrists
If you read books on both sides of the aisle, this book will be unsatisfying. The historical analysis given is based more on storytellinrg techniques with the author's interpretation taken on faith, without specific examples or citations. The main argument of the book, that identity politics is destroying the left because it is incompatible with social justice, is convincing but other deeper questions remain unasked such as what relationship or balance should there be between individual/procedural justice and social justice? The prescription offered by the author is unsatisfying. The author wants us to develop a greater "we" that really only encompasses people whom are already democrats and urges every identity group to abandon it's "I" mentality to join the greater "we". However, this is a grammatical bait-and-switch, because common sense and experience shows us that each identity group already refers to itself as a "we." The author thinly veils his disdain for libertarians and caricatures all republicans as believers of conspiracy theory.
When I bought this book, I was hoping to read about how we might unite again as a country, restore civic discourse, and return to reasonable politics focused on issues. If you want that type of book, this book is not for you.
If you are an unwavering democrat or progressive who has never had an internal debate on which party to vote for, you are the intended audience for this book and may enjoy it.