Thursday, May 12, 2016

Finished: Kim R. Holmes, The Closing of the Liberal Mind

I finished The Closing of the Liberal Mind over the weekend.

The book's a quick read, but it's heavyweight in its implications. I'll be keeping my copy next to my bedside for a ready reference, and for periodic review. Especially good are Holmes' theory chapters, on the ideology of classical liberalism, and particularly on postmodern leftism and leftist authoritarianism. I can't recommend these enough, mainly because these chapters represent the best, most concise recent writings on the nature of the contemporary radical left, and the threat leftism poses to the American political and cultural order.

I have two quibbles: One, I was perturbed by Holmes' discussion of Dylann Roof, and especially how he mistakenly characterized Roof as a "white supremacist" who represents the "intolerance and bigotry" of "the right." Holmes writes that the 2015 Charleston attack "shows that a violent strain of racial hatred still exists on the far right in America." As readers may recall, I showed here that Roof isn't on the right. In fact, Roof's an "emo-prog" leftist, and frankly, the photo of Roof burning the American flag should have been enough evidence to figure that out without all of this about the "far right," a discussion which draws on leftist and MSM tropes seeking to demonize conservatives. I'll speak to Holmes about this personally if I meet him, perhaps at a book signing or something.

Two, Holmes provides a powerful explanation of why leftists are not liberals, offering a definition of what we normally refer to as "progressives" as "postmodern leftists." This is really perfect terminology, and easy to use. The problem is that Holmes, after offering these terms, in fact doesn't use them consistently himself. I didn't count, but Holmes used the term "progressive liberals" more than other other combination of terminology, which was frustrating because the whole point of his chapter 2, "The Rise of the Postmodern Left," was to reclaim "liberalism" for the classic meaning of the word as a political orientation favoring limits on government power, free exchange of ideas, free enterprise economics, and tolerance of political and religious differences. I was basically furrowing my brows throughout the book whenever Holmes abandoned his defined terminology and relapsed back into talking about postmodern radical leftists as "progressive liberals."

That's about it. As noted, I particularly enjoyed the book's parsimoniousness. It's largely a pleasure to read, and I had a couple of "aha" moments as well, always a good indicator of scholarly success.

In any case, I definitely recommend the book to my readers. It's a must-have item for your library.

Check it out at Amazon, The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.

The Closing of the Liberal Mind photo 13119012_10209731342423304_6532273431493805090_n_zpsbmxkuoai.jpg