- Paperback: 312 pages
- Publisher: Regnery Pub; First Edition edition (April 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0895268221
- ISBN-13: 978-0895268228
- Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,123,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism Paperback – April, 1985
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The very premise of this book has played out on the world scene since its writing. The liberal approach towards Communism (i.e. appeasement) in the 1970s had weakened the Western resolve to contain Communism just as Burnham predicted it would. On the other hand, the 1980s demonstrated the efficacy of the opposite approach, namely mustering the will and resources to rollback Communism. And the 1990s served to remind us all once again how ill-equipped liberalism is in containing Communism as the Red Dragon raised its ugly head and the Bear grew restless.
Burnham spends the first two-thirds of the book describing the liberal worldview in intellectual and moral terms. He begins by first outlining the major tenets of liberalism and shows from whence they arose. He then demonstrates how some of these tenets are intellectually weak due to their internal inconsistency, mutual incompatibility, and failures in application.
Burnham then shifts to the moral/psychological aspect of liberalism, specifically the role of values in liberal ideology; and the priority that liberals give to those values. He also explains the sentiments that drive the commitment to liberalism and explains how, in many cases, those sentiments are inconsistent with the intellectual tenets of liberalism. He also describes the powerful role guilt plays in the liberal impulse towards egalitarianism.Read more ›
Burnham justifies the book's title by tying liberal domination to what he recognizes as the mortal peril in which Western civilization finds itself, but he is reserved enough to state in the end that liberals and liberalism are not the cause of the decline of Western civilization but the cause of the West's suicidal reconciliation to its decline and of its failure to take restorative measures.
And Burnham takes a balanced historical approach which is incompatible with that of the polemicist. He discusses the history of liberalism, starting with the early days, during which liberalism indeed represented advocacy of human liberty and ending with the post-New Deal era, in which liberalism has come to mean liberty for liberals only and servitude for everyone else.
The ugly double standards that liberals practice when distinguishing "us" from "them" are elaborated on, as is the liberal enshrinement of all allies on the left, including Communist dictators, no matter how dangerous or offensive, and demonization of all opponents on the right, no matter how inefficacious. Political correctness and affirmative action are exposed here, even though these phrases have not yet become part of the American lexicon.
For while the themes are familiar, this book was written in an era that seems quite removed from that which we live in now - in the shadow of JFK's death and prior to Khrushchev's ouster and to the Tonkin Resolution which expanded America's role in Vietnam.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Should be required reading in all high schools and colleges!Published 9 months ago by raymond a hawk
This book, a classic conservative political manifesto from the 1960's that is almost wierdly, sadly prophetic, is a must-read for those interested in such things. Read morePublished on September 15, 2012 by David M. Keck
A classic work that is illuminating at least as much for its analysis of modern ideology as for its thesis (which has become relevant again in the face of the rise of militant... Read morePublished on October 3, 2011 by Walter
One of the best attacks on liberalism I've ever read, though Burnham makes the misleading argument that liberalism is a symptom of our dying civilization rather than its primary... Read morePublished on September 8, 2008 by Samuel31