Two Christians Take On Postliberalism

A mere three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we find ourselves bizarrely wondering whether the winners of the confrontation are the possessors of an exhausted philosophy. Liberalism long sailed upon oceans made safer by a lingering, non-established but semi-assumed Christianity (in the American style). Within those lightly acknowledged channels of the spirit, democracy grew, individual rights expanded, and commerce flourished.

Along the way, there were those who expressed reservations. Wilhelm Röpke worried that consumerism made man something less than he should be and noted that the modern system devours resources that it does nothing to replenish. E.F. Schumacher observed that international trade had gone from something that occurred only when a resource simply could not be had in a particular locale to an omnipresent practice that expended non-renewable fuels and deprived many of work that would otherwise be available. Robert Nisbet highlighted the seemingly ceaseless action of corporate and government power to erode the meaningful third sector of life (family, church, community organizations), thus leaving individuals more and more atomized and adrift.

All of those concerns seemed overblown when it appeared the end of history had come and liberalism was triumphant. Any remaining ghosts (such as the tragedy of Vietnam) looked to have been vanquished as the U.S. easily prevailed in removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991. The new world order had arrived, with liberalism as its unchallenged theory. Or so we may have thought.

Click Here to Read More (Originally Published at Modern Age: A Conservative Review) 

Hunter Baker, J.D., Ph.D. serves as dean of the college of arts and sciences and professor of political science at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He is the author of three books (The End of Secularism, Political Thought: A Student’s Guide, and The System Has a Soul), has contributed chapters to several others, and has written for a wide variety of print and digital publications. He is the winner of the 2011 Michael Novak Award conferred by the Acton Institute and has lectured widely on matters of religion and liberty.