In Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy
(Crown Forum, 2018), conservative Jonah Goldberg
argues that America’s foundation of democracy and capitalism is a “Miracle” which has saved us from chronic violence and crushing poverty, but now is threatened by rising populist forces on the left and the right. Goldberg contends that human nature is inherently tribal, and democracy and capitalism are unnatural. Therefore, maintaining those institutions requires effort. Goldberg’s narrative begins more than 10,000 years ago, before the agricultural revolution, and traces how Enlightenment principles were formed and eventually embraced by America’s founders. From there he argues that American ideals, including capitalism, defeated slavery and sparked an industrial revolution that alleviated poverty. He heavily criticizes early twentieth-century progressivism as antithetical to America’s founding principles, and sees twenty-first century identity politics contributing to tribalism among both liberals and conservatives, eroding democratic norms.
Bill Scher is a Contributing Editor for POLITICO Magazine. He has provided political commentary on CNN, NPR and MSNBC. He has been published in
The New York Times, The New Republic, and
The New York Daily News, among other publications. He is author of
Wait! Don't Move to Canada, published by Rodale in 2006.