Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama

Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama


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What has gone wrong with the grand American experiment in "ordered liberty"? The liberal's answer is that America has failed to live up to its full promise of inclusiveness and equality--likely the result of corporate greed and white male ruling elites. The mainstream conservative or libertarian's reply points to the Warren Court, the 1960's, or a loss of Constitutional rectitude.

Christopher Ferrara, in Liberty, the God That Failed, offers an entirely different answer. In a counter-narrative of unique power and scope, he unmasks the order promised as a sham; the liberty guaranteed, a chimera. In his telling, the false god of a new political order--Liberty--was born in thought long before America's founding, and gained increasing devotion as it slowly amassed power during the first century of the nation's existence. Today it reveals its full might, as we bear the weight of its oppressive decrees, and experience the emptiness of the secular order it imposes upon us.

The secular state has constructed a "myth of religious violence" to mask its own violent origins and ongoing displays of force. Ferrara destroys this myth with a relentless uncovering of truths hidden by both liberal and conservative/libertarian accounts of what has gone wrong. In this brilliant retelling of American history and political life, the author asks us to open our eyes to harsh realities, but also to the possibilities for a rightly ordered society and the true liberty that can still be ours.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621380061
Publisher: Angelico Press Ltd
Publication date: 06/11/2012
Pages: 726
Sales rank: 480,799
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

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Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
AndyRariden More than 1 year ago
LTGF is, admittedly, a Catholic polemic (p 9) intended to be part of an emerging "counter-attack" against enlightenment political doctrine. In that sense it is just the latest in a long list of critiques of the Enlightenment, perhaps MacIntyre’s work being the most powerful. It is engaging and challenging, but utterly fails to vindicate its own thesis: (1) that the concept of "Liberty" is simply the exercise of "Power" and (2) the superior form of political organization is to be found in a Catholic theistic monarchy. In its initial chapters Ferrara defends what he calls the "Greco-Christian Synthesis"-but he fails to show any real understanding of both Platonic or Aristotelian political thought (which he conflates) and his repeated references to the superiority of Catholic theistic monarchy amounts to nothing more than mere assertion. The analysis of the weaknesses of social contract theory in the following few chapters are accurate enough, but generally already established. Ferrara completely ignores the powerful case to be made, on Aristotelian grounds no less (See Aristotle’s The Politics), for localist limited constitutional republican government. The majority of the book is a critique of US history. While he plows new ground in debunking a great many myths about the revolution and the civil war, the only contribution he seems to seek to make to his overall thesis is that the founding politicians who inhabited its offices were, at best hypocritical slave holders and, at worst, would be tyrants in public and/or private. In other words, 500+ pages of LTGF amounts to no more than ad hominine attack-most of which we already knew sans the specific details-that they were human. By page 350 it becomes tiresome. None of the failings in the implementation or practice of the US Constitution disproves the virtue of republican government and they certainly do not prove the virtue of theistic monarchy, regardless of denomination. Like too many critics of the Enlightenment (A. MacIntyre), their observations come with a decidedly communitarian, if not outright Marxist disapproval of free markets. This has always struck me as unusual since free markets within a representative polity are a consequence of Aristotelian thought. Regardless, the failure of Jefferson et al to dispense with slavery at the outset of the founding of our republic is no more a refutation of Liberty than is Aristotle’s regrettable defense of slavery a refutation of his teleological moral system. If it were, Ferrara-as an Aristotelian Thomistic Catholic-would be subject to his own critique. The flaws are too numerous for this brief review, but a large on is Ferrara’s constitutional analysis. He simply is wrong when he states that the document granted “broad powers” to the federal government. He can be forgiven for, admittedly, not knowing what the purpose or text of the 9th amendment means, but the primary and secondary sources regarding the meaning of the constitution-when honestly understood-show a grant of only limited powers, all others retained by the states and/or the people. Prof. K. Lash’s The Lost History of the 9th Amendment is highly recommended to anyone who seeks an accurate understanding of what the constitutional text actually accomplishes. As a polemic on US history, LTGF is enjoyable and challenging, if tiresome. As an argument in support of theistic monarchy of any sort over individual liberty w/in a constitutional republic LTGF will fail you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author of this book seems to care more about trashing the Founding Fathers than giving the reader the truth. For example, he says that Madison, Hamilton, and Samuel Adams were Masons. That is simply not true. According to "Masonic Membership of the Founding Fathers," which was published by the Masonic Service Association, Madison, Hamilton, and Samuel Adams were not Masons. Here is what Madison himself said about Masonry in a letter to Stephen Bates on January 24th, 1831: "I never was a Mason, and no one, perhaps, could be more a stranger to the principles, rites, and fruits of the institution. I had never regarded it as dangerous or noxious; nor, on the other hand, as deriving importance from anything publicly known of it. From the number and character of those who now support the charges against Masonry, I cannot doubt that it is at least susceptible of abuses outweighing any advantages promised by its patrons."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago