About Patrick J. Deneen

Patrick Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the author of The Odyssey of Political Theory .

Remembering Alexis de Tocqueville

By |2017-02-21T09:43:24-06:00January 15th, 2017|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy, Democracy in America, Featured, Timeless Essays, Tyranny|

The rule of democratic tyranny, Tocqueville held, “reduces each nation to nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd”… Today’s offering in our Timeless Essay series affords readers the opportunity to join Patrick Deneen as he traces Alexis de Tocqueville’s argument concerning the American tendency towards majoritarianism [...]

Would Ronald Reagan Be a Sam’s Club Member?

By |2015-06-20T18:05:17-05:00June 20th, 2015|Categories: Books|

Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam (New York: Doubleday, 2008). Thomas Frank’s 2004 What’s the Matter with Kansas? was one of those rare books with a significant intellectual afterlife, still cited and debated years after its publication. In his polemic, [...]

Is Academic Freedom Inherently Good?

By |2019-12-05T10:54:17-06:00March 21st, 2015|Categories: Catholicism, Education, Freedom, John Stuart Mill|Tags: , |

Rarely do opinion pieces in college newspapers emerge as subjects of national controversy, but a recent essay by Harvard student Sandra Y.L. Korn has generated widespread denunciation among conservatives. Her essay—entitled “The Doctrine of Academic Freedom”*—argues for dispensing with longstanding commitments to “academic freedom” in favor of what she calls “academic justice.” Academic freedom permits [...]

Remembering Alexis de Tocqueville

By |2021-04-15T17:03:50-05:00March 15th, 2015|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Equality|Tags: |

By identifying and attempting to ameliorate democracy’s paradoxical excesses toward conformity and individualism, Alexis de Tocqueville sought to make democracy safe for liberty and to promote an ennobled, rather than a debased, form of equality. Among conservatives and liberals alike, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville is perhaps the most often quoted political theorist of [...]

The Progressive Liberal Tradition

By |2019-10-10T13:08:12-05:00February 28th, 2015|Categories: Liberalism, Progressivism, Tradition|Tags: |

There is legitimate debate over whether “progressive liberalism” constitutes a radical departure from, and even betrayal of, the basic commitments of “classical liberalism,” or whether it represents the next logical step in liberalism’s development. Both positions have merit. Many of the original architects of “progressive liberalism” begin with an explicit rejection of several of the [...]

Democracy, Greed, and the Perils of Equality

By |2014-09-20T17:06:06-05:00September 20th, 2014|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, American Republic, Democracy in America|

If there are two things that one is likely to hear from college faculty today, they are that 1. Students are too careerist, and 2. We need a more democratic society. They worry about the growing utilitarian cast of education in general, as well as the remnants of hierarchy, authority, paternalism, and inequality in today’s [...]

The Case for “Serfdom,” Rightly Understood

By |2014-04-26T16:50:26-05:00April 26th, 2014|Categories: Conservatism, Robert Nisbet|Tags: , |

Last Saturday I had the honor of addressing the 50th anniversary meeting of the Philadelphia Society. The title of the meeting was “The Road Ahead—Serfdom or Liberty?” My remarks sought to suggest that conservatives should be more circumspect about their rote incantation of the word “liberty,” and that there may even be something to be [...]

Tocqueville on the Individualist Roots of Progressivism

By |2019-04-11T10:35:41-05:00November 29th, 2013|Categories: Alexis de Tocqueville, Conservatism, Progressivism|Tags: , |

A friend once described conservatives as people who agreed about one important thing–that at some point in the past, something went terribly wrong. After that, conservatives splinter into untold numbers of camps, since they disagree ferociously about the date of the catastrophe. Most conservatives today agree that America has taken a terrible turn–that something went [...]

Counterfeiting Conservatism

By |2013-10-25T11:02:24-05:00October 19th, 2013|Categories: Conservatism, Michael Oakeshott|Tags: , |

Michael Oakeshott Conservatism is the “ism” that came into being to resist the existence of “isms.” This makes for potentially insurmountable challenges: How to evince a political belief that avoids the rigidity of ideology? Can one take a political position without becoming a political program? Can the principled stand against a politics based [...]

Who Closed the American Mind? Allan Bloom, Edmund Burke, & Multiculturalism

By |2020-11-13T15:14:36-06:00May 29th, 2013|Categories: Books, Culture, Edmund Burke, Education|Tags: , , , |

Allan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind”, remains a kind of liberation, an intellectually adventurous work written with a kind of boldness and even recklessness rarely to be found in today’s more politically correct and cramped age. But it rejected conservative impulses. One crisp morning 26 years ago I was walking across the campus [...]

Patriotic Vision: At Home in a World Made Strange

By |2020-01-09T11:35:41-06:00April 16th, 2012|Categories: Patriotism|Tags: , |

  Patriotism exhibits an unarticulated agreement with Aristotle’s great and challenging assertion that “all men are by nature political animals.” According to Aristotle, humanity in full flourishing requires the goods that a political community affords—the material goods of sustenance, shelter, protection by an organized defense, and the less quantifiable goods of education, the bonds of [...]

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