It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
Wolfe in sheep’s clothing?
On The Future of Liberalism by Alan Wolfe.
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A political ideology may usefully be defined as a structure of interdependent ideas. It is like a building: if you can falsify the foundational notions in critiquing it, the whole structure will collapse. Readers already comfortable with the political leanings and beliefs of Alan Wolfe, a political scientist at Boston College, will enjoy The Future of Liberalism because it will make them feel—especially since the election of Barack Obama—that they are safely ensconced on the cozy side of history. His critics—I am one—will appreciate the book because it is rare to find quite so much earnest and contestable special-pleading for modern “liberalism” between two covers. It is a book that calls to mind the droll complaint that to do things like physics, or mathematics, or chemistry, you need a pencil, some paper, ...
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 27 March 2009, on page 4
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