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Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 24, 2019

Steven J. Brust
Pages 33-42
DOI: 10.5840/cssr20192428

It's About Liberty

While there are legitimate concerns about the sweeping character of Deneen’s indictment of liberalism’s anthropology and political theory and its impact on American society—in particular, his tendency to make the story of creation and instantiation of liberalism simpler than it actually is, to reduce the Constitution to a simple expression of liberal political philosophy, and not be specific about the actual accomplishments of liberalism—his overarching argument about liberalism and its trajectory is ultimately convincing, as is his critique of its understanding of liberty. The historical experience of American Catholics and the thought of two of its leading thinkers—Orestes Brownson and John Courtney Murray—support Deneen’s argument that a false understanding of liberty has been part of our American culture and provide guidance as to how a true understanding might be articulated and instantiated.