What is the liberal project's failure?


The liberal project's failure involves several critiques from different perspectives:

Redefinition and Misalignment of Liberty

Patrick Deneen outlines that the failure stems from a fundamental shift in understanding liberty. Initially focused on virtue and self-limitation, modern liberalism redefined liberty as the absence of obstacles to one's will or desires. This change, seen in thinkers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, leads to misalignment with traditional concepts of virtue and self-restraint, creating systemic issues 1.

Government Effectiveness

Ezra Klein emphasizes the practical failures of liberal governance, particularly in handling critical issues like housing. In regions with strong liberal power, such as California and New York, there's a significant failure to provide affordable housing, exacerbating inequality and limiting opportunities for the working class. This failure to execute promised policies undermines liberalism and strengthens opposition forces 2 3.

The Failure of Liberalism

Patrick Deneen discusses how the definition of liberalism has evolved over time, from a focus on self-limitation and virtue to the absence of external constraint. He argues that both conservatives and progressives are liberal by this definition, and that the entire concept of liberty in the modern liberal regime is at fault.


Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed

Education and Ideological Polarization

Roosevelt Montás argues that higher education, particularly liberal education, has failed to prevent ideological polarization and demagoguery in America. He asserts that liberal education should inoculate individuals against blind ideological adherence and foster critical thinking, but has fallen short, contributing to the political crisis 4.

Apathy and Disconnection

Carl Schmitt's critique, explained by Stephen West, is that liberalism fosters political apathy by giving people the illusion of a peaceful, normative political process. This apathy disconnects individuals from active political engagement, allowing covert political maneuvers without effective public scrutiny 5.

In summary, the liberal project's failures are seen in its redefinition of liberty, ineffective governance, inadequacies in education, and fostering of political apathy. Each of these aspects contributes to the broader critique that liberalism, in its current form, fails to meet its own goals and address societal challenges effectively.