The Once And Future Liberal: After Identity Politics by Mark LillaThe Once And Future Liberal: After Identity Politics by Mark Lilla

The Once And Future Liberal: After Identity Politics

byMark Lilla

Hardcover | August 15, 2017

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From one of the country’s most admired political thinkers, an urgent wake-up call to American liberals to turn from the divisive politics of identity and develop a vision of our future that can persuade all citizens that they share a common destiny.

In The Once and Future Liberal, Mark Lilla offers an impassioned, tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations. Although there have been Democrats in the White House, and some notable policy achievements, for nearly 40 years the vision that Ronald Reagan offered—small government, lower taxes, and self-reliant individualism—has remained the country’s dominant political ideology. And the Democratic Party has offered no convincing competing vision in response.

Instead, as Lilla argues, American liberalism fell under the spell of identity politics, with disastrous consequences. Driven originally by a sincere desire to protect the most vulnerable Americans, the left has now unwittingly balkanized the electorate, encouraged self-absorption rather than solidarity, and invested its energies in social movements rather than in party politics. 

With dire consequences. Lilla goes on to show how the left’s identity-focused individualism insidiously conspired with the amoral economic individualism of the Reaganite right to shape an electorate with little sense of a shared future and near-contempt for the idea of the common good. In the contest for the American imagination, liberals have abdicated.

Now they have an opportunity to reset. The left is motivated, and the Republican Party, led by an unpredictable demagogue, is in ideological disarray. To seize this opportunity, Lilla insists, liberals must concentrate their efforts on recapturing our institutions by winning elections. The time for hectoring is over. It is time to reach out and start persuading people from every walk of life and in every region of the country that liberals will stand up for them. We must appeal to – but also help to rebuild –  a sense of common feeling among Americans, and a sense of duty to each other.

A fiercely-argued, no-nonsense book, enlivened by Lilla’s acerbic wit and erudition, The Once and Future Liberal is essential reading for our momentous times.

Mark Lilla is Professor of Humanities at Columbia University and a prize-winning essayist for the New York Review of Books and other publications worldwide. His books include The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West; The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics; G. B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern; and The Legacy...
Title:The Once And Future Liberal: After Identity PoliticsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:160 pages, 7.5 × 5 × 0.69 inPublished:August 15, 2017Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062697439

ISBN - 13:9780062697431


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting questions for the future of the Democratic Party As a Canadian, I wasn't really looking for a book about the US Democratic party. While much of this book deals with the American situation and is obviously a reaction to their new Commander-in-chief, there are a few insights and questions that can be transposed to other progressive movements throughout the world. Mr. Lilla suggests that the identity politics agenda being followed in many countries will continue to create a political reaction that will, in the end, destroy the progressive movement. Progressive parties need to be looking to unite the electorate more than divide.
Date published: 2017-11-06

Editorial Reviews

The Once and Future Liberal is the angry cry of someone on the left who no longer recognizes his comrades…  Polemical but passionate, it is at the center of the identity debates that still divide the United States.”