Steve Bannon once expressed the view this piquant political moment could be “as exciting as the 1930s.” Not because the president is akin to Hitler. But because “everything might be up for grabs: not just electoral coalitions, but the nature and destiny of the liberal order.” Drawing on Patrick Deneen's new book, Why Liberalism Failed, Ross Douthat gives credibility to his thesis:
Where it once delivered equality, liberalism now offers plutocracy; instead of liberty, appetitiveness regulated by a surveillance state; instead of true intellectual and religious freedom, growing conformity and mediocrity. It has reduced rich culture to consumer products, smashed social and familial relations, and left us all the isolated and mutually suspicious inhabitants of an “anticulture” from which many genuine human goods have fled.
Then, on the basis we lack consensus on an alternative to the current regime, and with Trumpism apparently on the wane, Douthat concludes that “maybe the crisis of liberalism isn't real, maybe people are just play-acting.”