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Suicide of the West summary

Jonah Goldberg

How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy

4.1 (83 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg is a thought-provoking book that explains the cultural decline of the West and how it can be reversed by re-embracing our cultural and political traditions. It offers insights into the importance of culture, religion, and liberty in maintaining a healthy society.

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    Suicide of the West
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    Modernity is nothing less than a miracle.

    Human history has mostly been a miserable affair. For a considerable portion of it, poverty and violence were the norm. In the words of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, life for the majority of our ancestors was “nasty, brutish and short.”

    That is, until around 1700, when something happened that changed everything. It was nothing short of a miracle.

    But before we get to that, let’s take a closer look at how humans used to live.

    For most of human existence, Homo sapiens were nomadic apes – primitive hunter-gatherers who lived off what they could scavenge and catch. Then, around 15,000 years ago, agriculture emerged, kick-starting a period of rapid development. It’s not quite the miracle, but it was miraculous. At that moment, the first recognizable human “societies” took shape.

    The real miracle came later – more precisely, it happened in the late seventeenth century when humanity once again revolutionized the way it organized itself.

    Economic data tells a good deal of the story of just how much things changed after 1700. Before the eighteenth century, most people lived on around $1 a day; afterward, their income skyrocketed. After centuries of stagnation, global GDP per capita started rising ever higher, with no end in sight.

    But people didn’t just become richer – they also started thinking differently. From the late seventeenth century onward, new ideas emerged in the West about how to structure society and government.

    Take the Glorious Revolution of 1688. William of Orange invaded England and overthrew King James II. Unlike previous palace coups, however, William didn’t just cement his own rule; he passed revolutionary reforms. The Bill of Rights, for example, set clear limits on the monarchy and gave parliament a much greater say in running the country. It was one of the first times in history that the right of parliamentary representatives to govern in the name of the people was set in stone.

    If we want to preserve the gains of this miracle, we need to understand it. That’s what we’ll be doing in the following blinks.

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    What is Suicide of the West about?

    Suicide of the West (2018) answers two vitally important questions: what made the triumph of Western civilization possible and how can we preserve its achievements. Tribalism, Goldberg argues, might be deeply rooted in human nature, but it can be held in check. If we want to discover how that can be done, we need to look at the two greatest examples of what he calls the “miracle” – the revolutions that put England and, later, America on the path to liberty and greatness. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. If we fail to learn history’s lessons, we’ll end up contributing to nothing less than the suicide of the West.

    Suicide of the West Review

    Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg (2018) is a thought-provoking exploration of why the Western world is in jeopardy and why we must fight to preserve our principles. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a refreshing perspective on political history, challenging conventional thinking and prompting readers to reconsider their assumptions.
    • Through a combination of research, analysis, and compelling arguments, the book sheds light on the dangers facing Western civilization and offers potential solutions.
    • With its clear and engaging writing style, the book's ideas are conveyed in an accessible manner, captivating readers and making them rethink the world around them.

    Who should read Suicide of the West?

    • Politics buffs of all stripes
    • Anyone who’s perplexed by the rise of tribalism and populism
    • Anyone interested in the foundations of liberalism

    About the Author

    Jonah Goldberg is an American conservative writer and pundit. He is a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times and the senior editor of the National Review. Goldberg is known for his book Liberal Fascism, a blistering attack on left-wing authoritarianism which reached number one on the New York Times best-seller list in 2008.

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    Suicide of the West FAQs 

    What is the main message of Suicide of the West?

    The main message of Suicide of the West is an examination of how liberal democracies are built and sustained, and the threats they face.

    How long does it take to read Suicide of the West?

    The reading time for Suicide of the West varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Suicide of the West a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Suicide of the West is worth reading because it offers a thought-provoking analysis of the challenges faced by liberal democracies and provides insights into their potential solutions.

    Who is the author of Suicide of the West?

    The author of Suicide of the West is Jonah Goldberg.

    What to read after Suicide of the West?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Suicide of the West, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    • Co-Intelligence by Ethan Mollick
    • Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson
    • On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey
    • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson