"The Once and Future Liberal" by Mark Lilla

“The Once and Future Liberal,” though not exactly a light read, is a fascinating look into how the liberal political movement, at least in the opinion of Mark Lilla, has essentially failed in the last 20 or 30 years. Lilla, a humanities professor at Columbia, writes the book specifically as a hardnosed critique against identity politics and why such a movement has helped divide the country instead of unite it — especially in light of the last presidential election. By the end, Lilla offers a vision (albeit lofty) of how liberals can finally, once and for all, unite to share a focus on citizenship, duty and purpose — points that, Lilla says, are being clouded by the focus on the individual rather than on common interest among citizens. Though I can’t agree with the entirety of Lilla’s points (he kind of mocks protesting, denouncing it as distraction from electing Democrats into office), I enjoyed reading a critique on liberalism from a self-proclaimed liberal. He makes some strong arguments, ones that I will probably continue to think long and hard about. — Mary Biekert


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