Chapter 7 of Why Liberalism Failed (2018) walks us through the intentional and expected progression of the break-down of American civic virtue. There’s a reason why the Boy Scouts mandate that 3 of the 13 specified merit badges required for Eagle Scout are for citizenship (Citizenship in the Community, Nation and World). The scouting program instills not just knowledge and skills, but more importantly, morality. Citizenship is a lost, dying virtue slipping farther away from our thoughtless population. And this ongoing degradation of citizenship was purposely built into the American system of Government by its architects.
Deneen points out profound concerns that the founders of our nation had while structuring government around natural anti-democratic constraints. Civic ignorance, incompetence, indifference and misinformation have always been around. So they built a republic, not a democracy. James Madison believed strongly that the best interest of the nation was protection of “the diversity in the faculties of men”, manifested in unequal and varying attainments of property. This unleashed self- interested private ambition of individuals was sewn into the deepest fabric of the U.S. and it is the source of both our country’s material success and its utter failure to foster and perpetuate civic virtue and morality among citizens.
Deneen’s book concludes with some thoughts on the future, which I enjoyed but those ideas are speculative, unlike his historical and current events analysis buttressed with extensive endnotes and a bibliography. We shall end our tour through Professor Deneen’s ideas at chapter 7. The most important point is clarification of the true and correct meaning of the word Liberty. It is so undeniable (despite enemy Liberalocrats’ opinions to the contrary) and powerfully important that I’ll repeat what I wrote here on 5/30/17: Alexis De Tocqueville citing Cotton Mather (1663-1728): “There is a liberty of a corrupt nature, which is affected both by men and beasts, to do as they want. This liberty is the grand enemy of truth and peace.”
Our primary War Chest defensive weapon is the correct understanding of liberty and its grand enemy manifested by a corrupted view of liberty advanced today by both political parties – an undisciplined, unvirtuous ethic of doing whatever one wants without self-restraint, duty or honor.