Is Liberalism Dead?

The conservative and Christian failure over the past several decades to insure that the American K-college education system actually taught history and the founding of our country has had disastrous consequences. A smaller percentage of our nation’s citizens understand our country and the West than ever before.

Here are excerpts from two posts regarding Kim R. Holmes’s new book, The Closing of the Liberal Mind. First up is S. Adam Seagrave writing at Public Discourse, followed by a section of an extensive overview of the book (including excerpts) from Encounter Books and the Heritage Foundation.

Kim R. Holmes’s new book interweaves abstract philosophy with history, empirical data, and concrete narrative.

Is liberalism dead? The shadow of this troubling question overhangs much of the sweeping, profound, and timely narrative of Kim R. Holmes’s new book, The Closing of the Liberal Mind. In his acknowledgments, Holmes helpfully reflects that “the history of ideas involves a complex interaction between people’s thoughts and deeds that often remains as elusive as an evening breeze.” As elusive as this interaction can indeed often be, Holmes tracks the evening breeze remarkably closely and faithfully throughout the book.

The metaphor is particularly apt in the case of Holmes’s subject, which involves a story of “tragedy,” of “closing,” and of the symbolic extinguishing of the bright flame of liberty represented on the book’s cover. Like a few other recent works with depressing Tocquevillian twists, such as Paul Rahe’s Soft Despotism: Democracy’s Drift or Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, Holmes argues that the early promise of liberalism in its “classical” or “moderate” guise has given way to a noxious blend of individualism, subjectivism, relativism, atheism, and nihilism. The promising dawn of liberal modernity in the thought of John Locke and the American founders has run its course and turned to the dusk of its dark “postmodern” twin.

Read more: Public Discourse

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Are Liberals Losing Their Minds?
Kim R. Holmes reveals how liberals have allowed close-mindedness and intolerance into our culture.

American liberals are becoming increasingly “illiberal”—hardheaded in their opinions, judgmental about others’ behaviors, surrendering to the temptations of the closed-minded, says historian and former Assistant Secretary of State, Kim R. Holmes. Ph.D. During a time when moderate liberals and conservatives seem to have very little in common, Holmes points out one important alignment: neither has an interest in the triumph of illiberal values in our country.

In his new book, The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left (Encounter Books; Hardcover; April 12, 2016; $25.99), Holmes reveals how American liberalism, which for centuries fought for individual liberties such as free speech, has become its opposite: closed-minded and intolerant of diferent points of views, a development that is transforming a once vibrant liberal tradition into an illiberal force for denying people’s rights and freedoms.

“There is in our culture today a general eagerness to demonize political opponents, but what makes it particularly dangerous is that so much intolerance is practiced by liberals who otherwise claim to be fair and open-minded,” explains Holmes. “This liberal version of intolerance, which I call ‘illiberal liberalism,’ occupies the commanding heights of American culture and its institutions—the media, our schools and colleges, the entertainment industry, the leadership of American corporations, the establishment political class and even many mainstream churches—threatening the foundations of American governance.”

Read more: Encounter Books