Political scientist’s new book on liberalism garners significant media attention

Author: Arts and Letters

Patrick Deneen 600Patrick Deneen

A new book by a Notre Dame political science professor has sparked a fire in the public sphere, garnering significant discussion in major media outlets over his arguments about liberalism and modern society.

In Why Liberalism Failed (Yale University Press, 2018), Patrick Deneen — the David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies — argues that liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions. While it champions equal rights and individual autonomy, he contends, it has led to significant economic inequality and widespread government control.

Deneen, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2012, makes the case that liberalism is not the end-state of human political evolution, and that its inherent flaws are leading to success that is in turn generating its own failure.

Deneen’s book was the subject of columns in The New York Times by David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Scott Reyburn. It was reviewed in the Economist and the Wall Street Journal. Interviews with Deneen were featured on Economist Radio, Crux, the Bookmonger podcast, and the Yale University Press podcast.

The book sold out its initial printing in just a week; a second printing will be available soon.

"An author hopes for, but rarely receives, the kind of attention that my book has been garnering,” Deneen said. “Whatever the virtues of the book, this attention reflects as well the widespread anxiety about our political system and a longing among citizens for an explanation of the deepest sources of our crisis. 

“A blessing of being at Notre Dame is the gift of colleagues and students and the profundity of the Catholic intellectual tradition that help make such deeper reflection possible."

Among other upcoming appearances, Deneen will be appearing on the BBC in London next month and an event led by Brooks in Washington, D.C., this spring. He will be lecturing at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. C-SPAn will tape his lecture Thursday in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Deneen is the author or editor of six other books, including Conserving America? Thoughts on Present Discontents (St. Augustine Press, 2016), Democratic Faith (Princeton University Press, 2005), and The Odyssey of Political Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000).