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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics Hardcover – August 15, 2017
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“A terrific short book about the decline of American liberalism explaining how they went from the successes of FDR’s coalition to the pitfalls of today’s identity politics. It’s an accessible book that’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how we arrived in the Trump era and where the Democrats go from here.” (Fareed Zakaria, CNN)
“Though it’s a book written by a liberal Democrat for liberal Democrats, every conservative who cares about the future of American politics should read it… The Once And Future Liberal is a punchy, no-b.s. guide to how the Democrats can make the future their own… [A] must-read.” (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative)
“Brief but brilliant book.” (Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post)
“After the disaster of November 2016, a wreckage analysis is desperately needed. Mark Lilla offers a deep and provocative brief on what went wrong, and what liberals, moderates, and progressives might do about it.” (Steven Pinker)
“Mark Lilla will make many people mad, but to excellent purpose. He calls for a revived politics of liberty and justice for truly all and a real debate over how to achieve the common good. The job now is to find and include a genuinely diverse set of voices to create the new American ‘we the people’ that Lilla envisions.” (Anne-Marie Slaughter)
“In the age of Trump, Mark Lilla’s engaging and provocative book is a must-read. The Once and Future Liberal is full of insights on the failure of the identity politics movement, and on what progressives have to do to capture America’s imagination and secure the common good.” (William Julius Wilson)
About the Author
Mark Lilla is Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and a prizewinning essayist for the New York Review of Books and other publications worldwide. His books include The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction; The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West; and The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Top customer reviews
This book is not an academic tome, rather a short, accessible call to action. Would a longer, more systematic work be "better?" Not if the goal is to reach a large number of readers. Would that hypothetical, longer book be definitive? Who knows? It takes years to do thorough research, write, and publish a substantial work of political and historical analysis. In the meantime many formerly loyal Democrat voters are withholding their votes from the Party due to its surrender to identity poltics.
I agree with his views on identity politics. However, even more fundamentally, employment is critical to sustaining a sense of nation and shared citizenship. Jobs not only pay the bills (hopefully) but bring people into the broader, public arena, linking them functionally and emotionally to other employees/workers and perhaps customers/clients, and offering a sense of accomplishment and contribution to society. Even if we do not live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same church, gossip in the same coffee shops, etc., shared workplace experiences do much to unite us.
Some people will disagree with my review and with the author on substance. Fine. There is much uncertainty here, especially when moving from ideas to their implementation (e.g, winning elections and running a government). Others, might dismiss my thoughts categorically: those of an OLD, CAUCASIAN, MIDDLE-CLASS ("bourgeois?"), OVER-EDUCATED ("egg-head professor!" but how to categorize an EX-professor?), RIGHT-HANDED, etc., etc., MALE. Such labels have much in common with overzealous identity politics, and some so-called "diversity," and can make democracy unworkble.
In response to this reviiew one person has commented, "All politics are identity politics." Nonsense; I could not disagree more. Even with all its problems our present politcial process is not just "identity politics." Secondly, this comment degrades both concepts: both "politics" and "identity" can be seen as positive aspects of a well functioning society.
Even if you are not liberal I believe this is a worthwhile book for you to read. While he doesn't specifically give guidance for how the right can clean up their act he points out their issues so succinctly that I believe it is not hard to see how they can work on fixing them.
I have long been a liberal myself and left of center on nearly everything. And I raise my middle finger high in solidarity with that hypothetical man. I sure hope he doesn't get immersed in white identity politics in response to his utter humiliation. He's the last kind for which it is acceptable to make fun of his religion, his intellect, and the way he talks.
This book nails the problem and cure, and to my surprise it looks like the left is actually listening.