Written by Evan Myers, News Editor
Thursday, January 23, Patrick Deneen , political theorist and professor of Political Science at Nortre Dame, will visit Furman’s campus to give a lecture on “Taking Populism Seriously.” The event, scheduled for 5p.m. in the Watkins Room is sure to draw a crowd of curious community members, eager to engage with the author of one of the most significant—and controversial—works of political philosophy in recent years, Why Liberalism Failed (2018).
Deneen’s book, which challenges both conservative, free-market capitalism and progressive, lifestyle liberation is “a radical critique of modernity,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Moreover, it has captured the attention of leaders on both the left and the right, receiving praise and criticism from all sides. Obama, for example, said that “Why Liberalism Failed offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel, issues that liberal democracies ignore at their own personal.” In the American Conservative, on the other hand, Rob Dreher writes that Why Liberalism Failed is “one of the most important political books of 2018.” Given his bold position and wide appeal, Deneen’s lecture will likely spark interesting discussion that carries on long after he has left campus.
As part of the Tocqueville Program’s lecture series on the “Crisis of Liberalism,” Deneen’s visit will also include joining students in the classroom to consider some of modern politics’ most pressing questions. Price St. Claire, a sophomore Political Science major and Tocqueville Fellow praised Deneen as both “radical and thoughtful,” and said that he is “especially curious whether Deenen sees populism as a corrective to his vision of liberalism’s failure or as part of the problem.” Caleb Roberson, a junior Computer Science major who is also a Tocqeuville Fellow, said that he is looking forward to asking about “the relationship between free market and cultural individualism,” and expressed that he is curious about Deneen’s suggestions for “bringing the left and right together.” Finally, Naomi Ladine, a junior Political Science major and another Tocqueville Fellow, said that “the best thing about Deneen’s visit is that it’s part of a longer conversation at Furman.” In particular, she praised The Tocqueville Program, saying that it “allows for intellectual growth in the context of real relationships; we’re community centered on asking relevant questions and seeking to answer them in a serious, thoughtful way.” For Ladine,
Deneen’s visit will in some ways be a culmination of recent study, but she believes the best part is that the “conversation will keep going after he leaves.”
In sum, the event—which is free and open to the public—will likely draw a large crowd to hear a bold speaker elaborate on his thoughts about our current political system, its problems, and perhaps some potential solutions as well.