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The Liberal Delusion [Paperback]

John Marsh
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Nov 2012
Is western civilisation based on a mistaken understanding of humanity? Fundamental to any society is its comprehension of human nature. It shapes attitudes and policies on a whole range of issues: interpersonal relations, child-rearing, discipline and punishment, economics and welfare. For millennia western societies were based on the idea that human nature is flawed. This was turned upside down 300 years ago during the Enlightenment by writers such as Rousseau, who argued that we are born good and later warped by parents and society; a liberal view of human nature which is now being challenged by scientific discoveries in the fields of the mind, the brain, and genetics (including the Human Genome), evolutionary psychology, and anthropology. This fundamental change has had profound effects. If we are essentially good then we can safely maximize freedom and abandon morality, religion and tradition. Many aspects of life have been liberalised - sexual behaviour, alcohol consumption, censorship, gambling, divorce laws and economic activity. Economic liberals thought free markets were rational and good and favoured minimal government interference and light-touch regulations. This led to the credit crunch and the greatest financial crisis since World War Two. Many parents now hesitate to discipline their own children. The belief that we are essentially good but corrupted by society has also influenced penal policy. Liberals see criminals as victims, not as wrongdoers; because surely no-one would choose to do something wrong. This is a world far removed from the self-sacrifice and fraternity shown during World War Two. It has not brought happiness but rather more alienated individuals. The outcome of egalitarian aims or methods has often missed its mark: e.g., in education it has led to the dumbing down of academic standards, grade inflation and a decline in social mobility. Egalitarian regimes from the French Revolution to the Soviet era have been amongst the most bigoted, brutal and bloody in history. The drive for greater social justice and fairness must remain an essential objective. There is, therefore, an urgent need to separate out the positive from the negative aspects of liberal thought and practice, as otherwise there is the risk of descent into moral anarchy and social disintegration.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Arena Books Ltd (5 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906791996
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906791995
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

John Marsh was born in 1947 in Cleveleys Lancashire and educated at Blackpool Grammar School and the universities of Lancaster and Oxford. His study of history and philosophy led to a lifetime interest in these subjects and especially on the impact of Enlightenment thinking on society. He taught history briefly before working in law and commerce. In 1997 he established a property investment business in London. He is married with three grown-up boys. His book The Liberal Delusion examines liberalism in the light of recent scientific discoveries, and argues that liberalism's core belief in human goodness is false, unscientific and harming society. His conclusion is that society has become too liberal, and that we urgently need to reappraise liberalism and separate out the positive, such as the commitment to greater social justice, from the negative - excessive freedom and loss of morality.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Davie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Replete with examples, references, anecdotes and current observations familiar to the socially aware the authenticity of this book is undoubted. It is a very useful antidote to the poisonous, socially destructive liberal drivel that has polluted university social science departments (I speak as an ex-OU student)
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for our time 22 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not too long ago being liberal meant to be free from outmoded ways of thought and practice, to think well of humanity and to give generously. But today, even some liberals challenge that view. So John Marsh's timely book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand modern liberalism and its impact on society. In it he claims liberalism's philosophical foundations are collapsing and destroying the very freedoms liberals say they exist to defend. In his opinion, it is this destruction which is responsible for much of our current moral crisis.

Conceived in the Enlightenment, liberalism began as a philosophical, social and political challenge to a western Christianity compromised by privilege and worldliness. That the age of ritual deference to our social 'betters' has now past, Marsh acknowledges as a major liberal achievement. Today liberalism is the predominant ideology for the cultural elite. But when Marsh uses Enlightenment principles to test liberalism's basic assumptions, that we are born essentially 'good' and then corrupted by society, he discovers wishful thinking rather than new philosophical truth. Failing to pass the tests modern science, anthropology, sociology and history provide, liberalism collapses. And by mistaking license for freedom it unwittingly encourages poverty and inequality.

Marsh points to the scientific evidence from brain studies, genetics, neuroscience and psychology which reveal that selfishness is built-in to our human nature, not something acquired from our parents or the environment. Anthropological studies finding high murder rates among tribal people exposes the liberal idea of the 'Noble Savage' as sentimental nonsense.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking work 10 Mar 2013
By algazr
When I purchased this book recently, I felt, from recommendations of others who had already read it, that it was likely to be a thought-provoking work. I also feared that it might be a trifle turgid and heavy going! It would appear that my expectations were both right and wrong: the book was a fascinating read, but the straightforward and direct writing style made sure it never lost its sense of purpose, nor allowed its message to become blurred. What could have been quite complex ideas were offered in such a fashion that one never had to struggle to assimilate them.
The author is quite clearly a man of "old-fashioned" views, and he has researched his subject matter very thoroughly. I found it refreshing that he was prepared to "take on" the militant atheism of such "big names" as Richard Dawkins, who actually seemed to emerge from Marsh's criticism with any pretensions of intellectual rigour left in tatters! What I wouldn't give to witness a live debate between the two of them!
Marsh puts his finger neatly on the root causes of many of the ills which beset our society, and the result of this precision is a book which can present rather a bleak outlook. Sadly, it appeared that only by implication (of a return to a bygone set of values) did he suggest a remedy for the problems. If there is such a thing as a criticism of the book that I might offer, this is it. Perhaps he is saving this for a second book. I hope so!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definately worth a read! 18 Feb 2014
John Marsh treats the major problem of Liberalism allowing society to decline in a thorough, engaging way in this book. His argument that human nature is fundamentally flawed has been ignored too often by atheists and supporters of science without faith. Other cornerstones of thought involve the erosion of tradition, history and the moral chaos that has sadly been allowed to undermine life. ‘The Liberal Delusion’ is an excellent read and the impressive referencing certainly helped me to appreciate related works, such as Pinkers ‘The Blank Slate.’
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking 4 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This will chime with many who find themselves at odds with the mores of modern society. Marsh gives a balanced view, without being sensationalist. Whilst obviously writing about his own views, he manages to do so and also give credit, when due, to liberal philosophies. Worth reading.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 23 Aug 2013
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This book makes the point that human beings are not perfect and not only that, there are some people who are just evil. Liberalism has allowed too much bad behaviour in society to prevail. We need to acknowledge that there is a dark side to humanity and to be prepared to punish those who intentionally do harm to others. A good and thought provoking read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 27 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This text offers some very useful insights.
In some areas, I question the basis of the argument (especially the short references to education whereit is simply in contradiction with all the evidence)
However, a most useful provocative text and a necessary challenge to much superficial modern thought.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Finally! A writer has had the courage to speak the truth and expose the lies which have been dominating our modern Society for decades. I have been only too well aware of many of the points made in this book, having suffered as one of the many victims of this so-called 'Liberty.' One of the poignant quotes include... 'advocates of Liberalism are afraid of liberty and intellects dish the dirt on Intellect.'... Probably because they neither know nor understand what true freedom/freedom of thought is. We are all entitled to our opinions, say the Libertists, yet these are the very people who shout you down if you dare to disagree.
A good and challenging book to get your teeth into but not for the faint-hearted... liberal?! ;)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
This is a disappointment. As someone who is generally right of centre and who empathises with many of arguments in this surprisingly thin book I was expecting an absorbing read. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Sophocles
5.0 out of 5 stars If you thought your world view was all your own, read this.
Brilliantly portrays the fraught patterns of modern thinking and the dilemmas resulting.
Published 1 month ago by Mr D E L STREATHER
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Excellent read. Well researched in-depth arguments. Blows the lid on so many taken for granted Liberal views. Recommended
Published 1 month ago by geoffrey e kitching
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener! John Marsh has his finger on ...
A real eye-opener! John Marsh has his finger on the state of the nation today. I agree with him on almost every issue. Read more
Published 1 month ago by vthom3
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A fascinating book that tells it as it is. Delivered promptly
Published 1 month ago by Laura
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely riposte
This book is refreshing, unstuffy, and serious. It is easy to read.I do not see many reviews, and wonder why.
Published 4 months ago by P J TAYLOR
3.0 out of 5 stars AMBUSHED
I was enjoying this book until part way through when I was ambushed by an unexpected evangelical rant. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Richard Tingle.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Liberal Delusion
An interesting book with a counter-cultural message. Not very long, but the extensive and well-researched bibliography will be very useful for students and others interested in the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Robert
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