A Refuge from Liberalism?

Issue Date April 2024
Volume 35
Issue 2
Page Numbers 168–172
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

Bryan Garsten claims that most treatments of liberalism today take the form either of “autopsy” or “demonology,” and that defenses of liberalism are either “plaintive or desperate.” While the former might be true, the latter description misses the mark. In the American case, “Refuge” as the basis of a political order is merely the progressive telling not just of what become hidden forms of “exodus,” but a particular kind of exodus that has been bound up with liberalism’s origin and history. In the current era, the state is seen forcing “refuges” such as churches, religious organizations, and other traditional communities to conform to progressivist ideology. Even as the progressive liberal state has insinuated itself into every facet of life, a different kind of exodus has predominated in contemporary U.S. society. That exodus — no longer inspired by a belief in “refuge” — takes the form of individual detachment from any community or membership. We are faced now with the prospect of having to live together, a nation of refugees who must cease an exodus into our interior deserts and instead learn the art of making a common home.

About the Author

Patrick J. Deneen is professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame. His two most recent books are Regime Change: Toward a Postliberal Future (2023) and Why Liberalism Failed (2018).

View all work by Patrick J. Deneen