The Once and Future Liberal

The Once and Future Liberal

After Identity Politics

Book - 2017
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Mark Lilla offers an impassioned, tough-minded, and stinging look at the failure of American liberalism over the past two generations. 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062697431
Branch Call Number: History 320.513 Lil


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Dec 20, 2019

"I write as a frustrated American liberal."
Leave it to a coastal white liberal elite to tell us what the problem is with coastal white liberal elites. Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia, has written a singularly tone-deaf, out of touch book, even if it professes to be very much of the moment. It's one of the many desperate, hang-wringing post-Trump "what went wrong?" efforts by moderate liberals who, rather than look at Trump or those who voted for him, turn on themselves and the liberal classes. It's our fault, they say, not those who elected an inept, inexperienced, misogynistic, racist, narcissistic oligarch. Lilla blames liberals for failing to offering a vision and a unified message and he sets his sights squarely on identity politics. It's a contentious phrase and, if you accept it at face value, this is your book. However, if you believe that politics is rooted in one's beliefs (part of one's identity) and that, as more trenchant and intelligent writers like Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose mention of Lilla's original op-ed led me to this book, argue, this country was founded on identity politics, namely that of white men. In Lilla and many others' view, it's only identity politics when practiced by minorities and marginalized communities, who are precisely those who were left out by American politics in the first place. I really question whether Lilla should even be allowed to call himself a liberal. He's not as out of touch as David Brooks, but he's close. An embarrassingly bad book.
"Black Lives Matter is a textbook example of how not to build solidarity."

ArapahoeStaff21 Nov 07, 2019

Lilla's scathing critique of identity politics is as relevant and refreshing today as it was when the book was published (2017). Lilla - who considers himself a centrist liberal - pulls no punches as he attacks the misguided efforts of the "woke" left, as well as the staunch right, to unite the country and find a common path forward.

Jul 13, 2018

If you’re a liberal who is on the same page as this guy, some other books to read are; The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided about Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt and Republican Like Me: A Lifelong Democrats Journey Across the Aisle by Ken Stern.

Dec 22, 2017

A thought-provoking critique of the forty-plus year failure of liberalism to present a vision to America of what we as a nation could be, having gotten mired in divisive identity-politics. I found this short book to be timely, and oddly inspiring. The author is an avowed liberal, who spares neither right nor left his trenchant observations and at time biting wit. Well worth reading!

Dec 21, 2017

A brief essay on the issue of identity politics and how the adoption of this has negatively affected the Democrats in the United States. I wish the book had been a more researched project rather then the essay that it is. That being said the author makes some salient points about the division of identity politics and how it does not offer a collective belief for the future. Worth reading.

Dec 08, 2017

Just finished this, and promptly bought a copy for my personal library because I think it's an important book. The author, Mark Lilla, a professor of Humanities at Columbia University, says a lot in 141 pages.

One of the major themes of his book is "identity politics," and how the current incarnation of the Democratic Party has focused on that concept to its detriment over the last two decades. He also believes that the Reagan ideology and movement within the Republican Party is ending, and that both parties are floundering and searching for a vision for the future largely due to the malignant phenomenon of Donald Trump.

Lilla is a progressive, and offers a possible path forward to make democratic liberalism more inclusive and politically successful. It's a good book.

Aug 30, 2017

But will the Neobourgeoisie listen? ? ? ?
Bernie Sanders comments after the 2016 election: One of the struggles that you're going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it's a step forward in America if you have an African-American head or CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of his country and exploiting his workers, doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot if he's black or white or Latino . . . .
Memorize pages 14, 90 and 117.
[For those still clueless about Identity Politics: whenever the most important subjects are being discussed, namely financial and economic inequality they {meaning either the faux crats or r-cons} shift over to {if faux crats} racism, sexism, this 'ism or that 'ism while the r-cons shift over to anti-pro-choice, or gun control, et cetera. Standard operating procedure, and anyone who decries this is on THEIR payroll!]


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