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Suicide of the West

Suicide of the West

How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy

Book - 2018
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"Running water. Electricity. Antibiotics. Dentistry. Air conditioning. Democracy. The rule of law. Such things are not only remarkably new inventions in human history, they are all alien to humanity's natural habitat. Here is what is natural: poverty, hunger, violence, tribal hatred, and an early death. If the Garden of Eden existed, it was a slum. Only once in the last 250,000 years did humans lift themselves out of their natural environment of poverty. It happened in eighteenth-century England--and it was an accident. If democracy, individualism, and the free market were humankind's destiny, they should have appeared and taken hold a bit earlier in the evolutionary record. The emergence of freedom and prosperity was nothing short of a miracle. Indeed, it was the miracle of human history. As Americans we are doubly blessed, because the radical ideas that made the Miracle possible were written not just into the Constitution, but in our hearts, laying the groundwork for our uniquely prosperous society... In the last few decades, these politcal virtues have been turned into vices. As we are increasingly taught to view our traditions as a system of oppression, exploitation, and privlege, the principles of liberty and the rule of law are under attack from left and right. At a moment when authoritarianism, tribalism, identity politics, nationalism, and cults of personality are rotting our democracy from within, Jonah Goldberg exposes the West's suicidal tendencies on both sides of the ideological aisle. With his trademark blend of political history, social analysis, pop culture, and wit, Goldberg makes the timely case that America and other democracies are in peril because they have lost the will to defend the values and institutions that sustain freedom and prosperity. For the West to survive, we must renew our sense of gratitude for what our civilization has given us and rediscover the ideals and habits of the heart that led us out of the bloody muck of the past - or back to the muck we will go."--Page [2-3] of cover.
Publisher: New York :, Crown Forum,, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781101904930
Branch Call Number: 320.520973 GO
Characteristics: 453 pages ; 25 cm


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Apr 18, 2020

Reactionaries have been writing books like this for 100 years and more: the West is always declining, or being poisoned by Certain People, or committing suicide, and yet never dies. Why is that? Well, there's always a market for them in people who think they will lose by change, and if they do have a lot to lose, they may have a higher income with spare funds for books. S of the W is better written and more concise than similar works, but I haven't given it a star rating. By just reading its description, you know whether you'll like it, or not.

Apr 15, 2020

A good though imperfect plea for classic liberalism and capitalism. The author rightly points out the ignorance of the origins of the Western world's prosperity concentrates on those who overly rely on emotion to guide their worldview. Well annotated though with the occasional declarative statement not backed up by research. Overall an interesting read that is worth it if you are interested.

May 09, 2019

Interesting argument, critical of "tribal" and emotion-based politics on both sides of the political spectrum, to the detriment of civil discourse, and ultimately, he concludes, to the detriment of liberal democracy.

Oct 06, 2018

"The rust of human nature is eating away at the Miracle of Western civilization and the American experiment. . .the corruption can only succeed when we willfully, and ungratefully, turn our backs on the principles that brought us out of the muck of human history in the first place."
Long enough subtitle for your? If you don't like it, you probably hate America and puppies. Jonah Goldberg, of the National Review and American Enterprise Institute, is familiar to listeners of NPR as the conservative who dislikes Trump and seems like a thoughtful, rational, moderate person. You know, one liberals can actually stand. His writing is a different matter though. His previous book was hilariously titled (Although he's not joking.) "Liberal Fascism." While I do think it's important to engage intellectually with those you disagree with, it can be hard to read a book in which your basic ideology is antithetical to the writer. Goldberg takes aim at liberals and all their evils (multiculturalism, identity politics, socialism, feminism, academia) without really giving credence to their arguments. I mean, attacking Marx is a little passe. As with "Fascism," his main idea is clear but his attempt to carve out an intellectual conservative tradition is uneven, unconvincing, and all over the map. Sigh. There's no point in critiquing something that conservatives will love and liberals will hate. A more rigorous look at the conservative tradition can be found in "The Reactionary Mind."

Jul 17, 2018

I read this book because I heard Goldberg on NPR and thought he sounded like a reasonable spokesperson for the conservative viewpoint. I agreed with many of the general points about tribalism etc. damaging our incredibly lucky and privileged way of life. I found Chapter 4 on the “Birth of Capitalism” interesting. But some of his cheerleading goes way too far. How could anyone other than a partisan accept a statement like this one? “The free market is the greatest anti-poverty program in all of human history…the only anti-poverty program in all of human history.” [p. 161] I have to agree with Park MacDougald’s NY Magazine review that this is a “book that can only be taken seriously by people for whom ideas matter less than the idea of ideas mattering; that is, for whom intellectualism is an exercise in branding and PR.”


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