The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left

This looks like a book that should be on our reading lists — The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left by Kim R. Holmes. First, here is the book’s description at the book’s page:

A former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Kim R. Holmes surveys the state of liberalism in America today and finds that it is becoming its opposite—illiberalism—abandoning the precepts of open-mindedness and respect for individual rights, liberties, and the rule of law upon which the country was founded, and becoming instead an intolerant, rigidly dogmatic ideology that abhors dissent and stifles free speech.

Tracing the new illiberalism historically to the radical Enlightenment, a movement that rejected the classic liberal ideas of the moderate Enlightenment that were prominent in the American Founding, Holmes argues that today’s liberalism has forsaken its American roots, incorporating instead the authoritarian, anti-clerical, and anti-capitalist prejudices of the radical and largely European Left. The result is a closing of the American liberal mind.

Where once freedom of speech and expression were sacrosanct, today liberalism employs speech codes, trigger warnings, boycotts, and shaming rituals to stifle freedom of thought, expression, and action. It is no longer appropriate to call it liberalism at all, but illiberalism—a set of ideas in politics, government, and popular culture that increasingly reflects authoritarian and even anti-democratic values, and which is devising new strategies of exclusiveness to eliminate certain ideas and people from the political process.

Although illiberalism has always been a temptation for American liberals, lurking in the radical fringes of the Left, it is today the dominant ideology of progressive liberal circles. This makes it a new danger not only to the once venerable tradition of liberalism, but to the American nation itself, which needs a viable liberal tradition that pursues social and economic equality while respecting individual liberties.

Here are a few reviews:

By Alan Caruba — If you’re wondering how the liberal, Left, progressive movement went from chanting “live and let live” to demanding “safe spaces” and opposing any speech that doesn’t agree with their view…then this is the book for you. And unlike other many other books taking on this topic who mostly show examples of the problem, Kim Holmes has done the hard work of writing a history of the movement – it’s origins, it’s evolution, and what’s at stake for America if it becomes the dominant worldview. In addition to being well researched, it is well written. You’ll enjoy the read.

By Mike Ghelardi — This may be the most important book in the last 40 years. Those criticizing it are exactly the closed minds the book describes! If you have ever wondered how liberals think, this book makes it as clear. Critics blind themselves to its truths. Liberals should read this book to possibly free themselves from a destructive, mandated group-think fantasy. Conservatives should read it to understand what’s going on with liberals, and to make the case for the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the United States that alone guarantee our freedom and happiness. We are in big trouble by not understanding liberal thinking. Once understood, we may have a fighting chance to save them and us, if it’s not too late. I urge every thinking person to buy this book, understand it, and use it to begin the restoration of a vibrant republic. Otherwise, we are all going down the sink hole.

By Emily S. — Great book. Explains in historical detail what many believe to be true. The book is very good at describing the history of how liberalism has changed dramatically in recent years. Highly recommended.

By Victoria Johnson — This is a ground-breaking history of American liberalism. Holmes explains the intellectual roots of why progressivism has become increasingly authoritarian and illiberal. Its unique contribution is understanding the impact of postmodern philosophy on the American Left. If you care about the future of the country it is a must read.