I find the title of the book to be unnecessarily provocative. The word "regime" can be looked at as "a way of doing things", or "culture", or possibly "worldview"."Regime Change" sounds like the replacement of authoritarian rule -- more like "revolution", which is what this book asserts that the "creative destruction" of Democratic Capitalism as implemented is effectively a state of revolution all the time, that needs to be changed.
What we are witnessing in America is a regime that is exhausted. Liberalism has not only failed, as I argued in my last book, but its dual embrace of economic and social ‘progress’ has generated a particularly virulent form of that ancient divide that pits the ‘few’ against the ‘many.’
Confession! As I later read the 2nd link, I got confused about which linked article I pulled which quote from. The 2nd link is "better" asin having more depth ... lots of Strauss, Machiavelli, etc.
I would recommend Deneen's last book "Why Liberalism Failed" to be read as a prelude to this one. They are somewhat like two volumes on our failed model of governance.
I may have missed it, but I don't see that Deneen has adequately defined "mixed regime", which shows up a lot in the book. I'll try to define this fairly nebulous beast. It is a "stew" that combines democracy (rule by the masses), aristocracy(rule by the "elite" or "best") and monarchy (rule by a king/queen). Aristotle is often credited with being the first to dream it up, but l like much of ancient history, that may be apocryphal. No matter, referring to Aristotle will always give one the patina of intellectualism!
To try to map the "mixed regime" onto the US, as the president being the "monarch", the senate (prior to the 17th amendment which elected senators by popular vote) being the "aristocracy", and the house would be the democracy. Imprecise at best. Very simply, the book would assert that we have attempted to drift toward democracy, while really ended up being an oligarchy, a form of "rule by the elite", in our case meaning the wealthy, the democrats, big media, big business, and the Administrative State as the "means" by which they rule. Increasingly even using organizations like the FBI to attack their political adversaries.
One of our many problems today is that the words we use have changed meaning over time. "Classical Liberals" (Locke, Hayek, Friedman, etc) put pretty much all their faith in Capitalism, "Creative Destruction" and "a rising tide lifts all boats". Up until recently, I would have confidently accepted the label "classical liberal" because I believe that the rising tide of greater prosperity HAS lifted all the boats ECONOMICALLY. It certainly hasn't lifted them equally, but that is impossible ... the US has given people equal opportunity, there is no way to give them equal ability!
Sadly however it is increasingly clear that the "Golden Goose" of Capitalism/Creative Destruction has killed the culture that it appears will now kill that creator of plenty (too much?) that Capitalism/Creative Destruction bequeathed us with. "Stuff" has created a "matter over mind/spirit" culture where most live lives of despair
The "liberals" of today, commonly called "progressives", want to keep all the economic progress, but "somehow" have it be "equal".
Progressive liberalism has held that through the overcoming of all forms of parochial and traditional belief and practice, ancient divisions and limits could be overcome and instead be replaced by a universalised empathy. With the advance of progress, the old divisions – once based in class, but increasingly defined in the terms of sexual identity – would wither away and give rise to the birth of a new humanity.
Utopianism is a perpetual danger to mankind. The road to "perfection" in this world has proven over and over again to be the road to Hell. The ancient problem of the conflict between "the few and the many". I agree with Anton:
Deneen has our elites’ number, yet even in Regime Changs early pages I found myself disagreeing a bit. He maps the ancient conflict between the few and the many onto our present predicament in a way I find a little too one-to-one. What we face today is less the age-old struggle between rich and poor than a coalition (conspiracy?) of high and low against the middle.
Anton goes on to say:
Perhaps it’s more precise to say that in contemporary America there is not one “popular” or downscale class but two: one that benefits from, and hence is aligned with, the present ruling class and one that is hurt by it and thus opposed. These two humors of populares cannot unite because their interests are diametrically opposed: the former are not only direct clients of the ruling class but often direct beneficiaries of elite depredations against what the late Angelo Codevilla called the “country class.”
From the 2nd linked review:
What is needed — and what most ordinary people want — is stability, order, continuity and a sense of gratitude for the past and obligation toward the future.
I believe that is what "ordinary people" SHOULD want if they think about it, but I'm afraid we are too far gone into meaningless distraction and consumerism for most to think about much of anything at that levl of cogence ... but the pessimism tends to be strong with me.
In 2016 we were introduced to the strange coalition. between the Bernie supporters and the Trump supporters. The elites hate both Trump and Bernie, thus they coronated Hillary, one of their own. Trump united the lower class people that wanted to get back to decent paying jobs and the lower middle class people that knew they were being screwed by the elite. A lot of the far left Bernie Bros just sat it out, but some were so mad at seeing Hillary coronated that they even voted for Trump!
Deneen begins his book, “nobody can look at America and think it is flourishing.” I suppose one can always find someone to say anything, but the qualifier is decisive here and Deneen is exactly right. If you think America 2023 is in good shape, that is ipso facto proof that you lack sense.
So we are a divided disaster with a real lack of any idea of how to get back to something where there is agreement on working together for "the Common Good".
We need to go deeper to understand a "way back" if such exists:
Indeed, very little, if anything, Deneen proposes would have been alien or anathema to the American Founders or their philosophic forebears. Deneen is well known for being one of a small (though perhaps growing) group of “integralists,” thinkers who wish to reintegrate not just religious faith but religious observance with political practice. To contemporary ears, that sounds profoundly illiberal. And perhaps it is—depending on one’s definition of “liberal.” But the same John Locke who is Deneen’s Bad Liberal #1 held that there is no conflict between religious liberty and government’s right to teach its own preferred religion. He even advocated government prohibition of open atheism. That position is not “liberal” by contemporary standards nor even in Deneen’s understanding.
For those of us with Christian belief, it seems some more study of the "integralists" is in order.
It is a worthy book, somewhat dense as any book on a topic so vast and complex is doomed to be. I highly recommend the review which is excellent ... it also points you off to other excellent important books to aid in comprehension of our increasingly obvious peril.