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The Anatomy of Antiliberalism Reprint Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0674031852
ISBN-10: 0674031857
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The debate between liberals and communitarians continues unabated. While liberals stress the value of individual autonomy and rights, communitarians emphasize the bonds of family, neighborhood, and community. The liberal perspective has been strengthened by the publication of this new book. Taking aim at such figures as Leo Strauss, Christopher Lasch, and Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, political scientist Holmes traces the derivation of their theories in the antimodern writings of Joseph de Maistre and Carl Schmitt. He shows that the "nonmarxist antiliberalism" of de Maistre and Schmitt are uncomfortably close to fascist doctrines. While acknowledging that today's antiliberals would reject the more extremist views of their historical brethren, Holmes insists that their "soft" rhetoric offers encouragement to revanchist critics of liberal-democratic capitalism. This well-organized and thoughtful text, marred only somewhat by the author's earnest but underdeveloped defense of the free market, is recommended for specialists.
- Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Holmes is a brilliant polemicist and a sparkling writer...The chapters [he] devotes to dead and hard opponents of liberalism are only a warm-up for his zestfully nasty attacks on soft and living opponents of liberalism...Surely the ideas being discussed here should get people angry and are worth fighting about. (Alan Wolfe New Republic)

Holmes' purpose is both to define the antiliberal traditon and to defend liberalism against it. The result is a book that sheds a good deal of light on the idea of liberty, mainly through the author's vigorous and well-informed polemic...The book is rich in insights and ideas, all of which contribute to the overwhelming impression the reader is likely to derive from the book: that liberalism is not weak and one-sided but rather takes into account...a wide range of fundamental human needs and desires. The liberalism sketched by Holmes is not easily relativized in either radical or conservative terms. (Glenn Tinder The Atlantic)

This book is an act of political engagement, a defense in clear and bracing language of liberal ideas...This book is [Holmes's] contribution to the present debate on an important question in American cultural life: whether liberal individualism in the United States has undermined moral commitment to community and the common good. (Gilbert Allardyce American Historical Review)

Holmes challenges the philosophical arguments of the high communitarians...and their intellectual forebears. By the time he is finished, the opposing camp has no survivors, ancient or modern. Anybody who feels drawn to the high communitarian cause owes it to himself (though not to society) to read Mr. Holmes's book; everybody else should read it for pleasure. (Economist)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (March 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674031857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674031852
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on August 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I read the panegyric reviews of this book in the New Republic 13 years ago, I promptly bought it. Few reviews of any book in any venue matched the praise for this book. When it arrived, I was disappointed. Other than its attacks on various nonmarxist illiberal schemes, which are the first-half of the book, and often "straw men," it only offered traditional (classic) liberal principles against the straw-men arguments hoisted against liberalism by conservatives, communitarians, and theocrats.

When John Dean's book "Conservatives without Conscience" was reviewed, all of the dragons Dean slays were already in mind. Where had I encountered them? Well, from this book, written 13 years earlier. Dean, it appears, like most traditional conservatives are still classical liberals at heart. The appeal of Barry Goldwater (a Dean mentor) was his devotion to classical liberal ideals. Maybe a tad extreme, but nonetheless appealing. Now, in light of neo-conservatism's assault on classical liberalism (which bears no resemblance to traditional conservatism), suddenly the power of this book becomes all to obvious and deserving of a far wider readership.

Classical liberalism has been under assault from its beginnings. It undermined the hegemony of religion. It gave people the right to consent to be governed. It imposed "limits" on what a government could and could not do, infuriating whimsical autocrats. It fostered the autonomy of the individual in making his own choices. It created a system where the exchange of ideas, commodities, and governors was in the common domain, not left to the elite. It insisted on "rights" of certain individuals and functions. It imposed checks-and-balances. It demanded democracy and representative government.
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