Despite its victory over the messianic creeds of communism and national socialism, democratic capitalism, the economic-political system that has provided the nations of the West with an unprecedented degree of prosperity and freedom, faces extraordinary challenges in the new millennium. Not only has a fanatical form of Islam disrupted the peace of the postcommunist era, which some had wrongly heralded as the "end of history," Western societies also remain haunted by internal demons: egalitarian fantasies, moral libertinism, an arid and unsustainable secularism, a suicide of culture.
Yet, in Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents, Brian C. Anderson argues that nothing ordains the triumph of these demons over the democratic capitalist prospect. Drawing on a rich anti-utopian tradition of political thought, he defends the real achievements of the free society against an array of critics, from Jean-Paul Sartre and John Gray to John Rawls and Antonio Negri.
Anderson pays particularly close attention to the United States, the democratic capitalist nation par excellence, showing how it differs from other liberal democracies in its robust religiosity, vigorous civil society, and constitutionalism—all under threat from the American Left. Finally, Anderson explores the thought of some of the most insightful friends of the modern regime of liberty, including the brilliant French political theorist Pierre Manent and the godfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol.
Crisply and vividly presented, Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents is an essential guide to the conflicts of our time.
What They're Saying...
"Not just a brilliant anatomy of how capitalism nurtures political freedom, but also a wise and penetrating analysis of the manifold illusions besetting modern culture, from the temptations of totalitarian ideology to the desiccations of radical secularism. As erudite as it is readable, Brian Anderson’s new book is sure to take its place as a contemporary classic."
— Roger Kimball, coeditor and publisher, The New Criterion
"The author rebukes the works of several anti-capitalist intellectuals and highlights their nabit of setting up fallacious straw man arguments to plow through."
"Thoughtful, meaty, finely honed essays from one of the rising intellectual stars of American public life. Brian Anderson’s work should be required reading for culture-war combatants who want a powerful demonstration of how ideas really do have consequences, for good and for ill."
— George Weigel, senior fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
"Anyone interested in understanding our political conversation will find Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents an invaluable guide. In vigorous and clear prose, Brian Anderson surveys the important ideas and thinkers that for good or ill underlie political issues from judicial activism to civil society. His defense of democratic capitalism is all the more persuasive for its honest recognition of liberal democracy’s weaknesses. This is the book every voter should read before the next election."
— Bruce S. Thornton, author of Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization
"Brian Anderson always brings great intelligence and clarity—and even wisdom—to whatever he touches. This book shows the scope of his vision and the qualities that have made him one of our most prominent younger social commentators."
— Robert Royal, president, Faith & Reason Institute
"[Anderson] gives us instead a bright, restless little book that illuminates the problem while pointing to resources, both intellectualand moral, capable of reviving the patient. Reviving, not curing. Reviving is the most for which a democratic capitalist is entitled to hope, such are the self-cancelling factors in the whole glorious, often-nutty persuasion."
— William Murchison, The Washington Times
"Anderson, the author of “South Park Conservatives,” shows no interest in partisan gotcha or culture-war hype. He concerns himself with politics in the Aristotelian sense: the study of how people best govern their societies and their souls...Anderson establishes himself among the most probing and erudite political essayists of our day....
To read Anderson at his luminous best is to be reminded of conservatism at its wisest - not least in its understanding of its own limitations."
— Jonathan Rauch, The New York Times
"Resolutely avoiding the sin of despair, Anderson [outlines] both the real achievements of free societies and the intellectual and cultural foundations for them. Key among his insights is that the defenders of freedom tend to take a very practical view of life, judging ideas and policies by the consequences they bring, wheras opponents of liberty want to force reality into a mold based on their imaginings of an ideal society. The radicals' vision isn't connected to an understanding of how human beings really are; that's why they end up attacking all the organically developed institutions and ideas that make a free society work—economic freedom, religious faith, individual liberty, rule of law, the principle of subsidiarity, the family, and public morality."
— National Review