Ján Baňas

Zotročení oslobodením? Protirečenia liberálneho chápania slobody

Enslaved by Liberation? The Contradictions of Liberal Understanding of Freedom

Politické vedy, Volume 23, Number 3/2020, pages 102-117



Recommended form for quotation of the article / Odporúčaná forma citácie článku:
BAŇAS, J. 2020.Zotročení oslobodením? Protirečenia liberálneho chápania slobody. In Politické Vedy. [online]. Vol. 23, No. 3, 2020. ISSN 1335 – 2741, pp. 102-117. Available at:


In recent years societies both in Europe and the USA have been undergoing a crisis of political legitimacy manifested in various negative social phenomena. Many arguments have been put forth to address and explain this crisis of political legitimacy and/or the attendant social issues. The article aimed at developing reconstruction and assessment of Deneen’s argument about the failure of liberalism. In his book Why Liberalism Failed, Patrick Deneen presented a radical thesis that liberalism had failed. It failed not because it was wrongly implemented, but because it was successful. Deneen argued that the seed of liberalism’s demise had been planted into liberalism at its very beginning. The main reason for the failure of liberalism lies in its defective understanding of human nature and human freedom. This causes the tools of liberation offered by liberalism to ultimately turn into the means of human enslavement. The author argued that Deneen’s critique of the liberal understanding of freedom seemed justified. However, he also argued that Deneen’s argument fails to sufficiently defend the connection between liberal theory and liberal practice. Another weak point of Deneen’s argument was that the response to the crisis of liberalism he recommended seemed to be unfeasible unless complemented with the demand to actively resist the dangers of liberalism. Further, the author defended Deneen’s argument against two possible objections, namely that his critique was applicable only to the situation in the USA, and that his proposed solution ignored the fact of pluralism. Despite the two weak points, Deneen’s argument and critique of liberalism cannot and should not be overlooked or dismissed and his argument deserves careful consideration and reflection.

Key words:           Liberalism, Freedom, Failure, Critique, Patrick Deneen

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