Despite the fall of its ideological enemies—the political messianisms of communism and national socialism—democratic capitalism faces extraordinary challenges in the new millennium, argues City Journal editor and South Park Conservatives author Brian C. Anderson in this thought-provoking new book. Not only has a fanatical form of Islam distrupted the peace and prosperity of the postcommunist era, which some had wrongly heralded as a liberal-democratic “end of history”; our free societies also remain haunted by internal demons—egalitarian fantasies, moral libertinism, an arid and unsustainable secularism, a suicide of culture.
Yet nothing ordains the triumph of these demons over the democratic capitalist prospect, Anderson believes. Drawing on a rich anti-utopian tradition of political thought, he defends the real achievements of the free society against an array of critics, ranging from Jean-Paul Sartre to British anti-market conservative John Gray to the quietly authoritarian social democrat John Rawls to the postmodern Marxist and one-time terrorist Antonio Negri.
Anderson pays particularly close attention to the United States, the democratic capitalist nation par excellence, showing how it differs from other liberal democracies in its robust religiosity, vigorous civil society, and constitutionalism—all under threat from the American Left. Finally, Anderson explores the thought of some of the deepest anti-utopian thinkers who are friends—albeit critical ones—of the modern regime of liberty, including the brilliant French political theorist Pierre Manent and the godfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol.
Crisply and vividly presented, Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents is an essential guide to the conflicts of our time.