The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics, by Christopher Lasch (Norton, 576 pp.; $25.00, hardcover). Reviewed by Reed Jolley, pastor of Santa Barbara (Calif.) Community Church.
One need not have an advanced degree in political science to realize that the political Left is in disarray. Martin Luther King, Jr., became the definitive hero of the sixties with his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. In the eighties, Donald Trump took center stage with his implicit boast, “I have a yacht.” George Bush easily entered the White House in 1988 on the tails of Ronald Reagan and is considered such a “slam dunk” for 1992 that the Democratic party is being advised not to “waste” a good candidate during the coming election. What happened? Why is right-wing populism so popular and the revolt against liberalism ubiquitous?
In The True and Only Heaven, culture-watcher Christopher Lasch provides a comprehensive—perhaps too comprehensive—analysis of the demise of liberalism during the past 15 years. The University of Rochester historian examines the philosophical roots of liberalism from the Enlightenment to the present. His intellectual inquisition finds rival traditions that have always challenged the liberal world view, but ours is the era that will bury liberal doctrines once and for all. Lasch writes, “Old political ideologies have exhausted their capacity to either explain events or inspire men and women to constructive action.”
The core of liberalism’s apple is the idea of progress, “the promise of steady improvement with no foreseeable ending at all.” Progressive ideologies that believed in the perfectibility of human nature died with World War I, but twentieth-century liberalism has clung to a watered-down version of ...1
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