John Daniel Davidson of the Federalist takes issue with key arguments in Jonah Goldberg’s latest book.

No doubt Goldberg certainly wants to conserve many good things like capitalism, private property, free speech, and democracy. But he fails to offer a full account of why the liberal order is at risk in the first place and why so many Americans are not as grateful for it as they should be. Despite all this prosperity, despite things being better than they’ve ever been, it doesn’t feel like it. Why?

Perhaps it has something to do with the liberal order itself, and not just tribalism or nationalism gone awry. Perhaps the Miracle, wondrous as it is, needs more than just our gratitude to sustain it. Perhaps the only thing that can sustain it is an older order, one that predates liberal democratic capitalism and gave it its vitality in the first place. Maybe the only way forward is to go back and rediscover the things we left behind at the dawn of the Enlightenment.

Goldberg is not very interested in all of that. He does not ask whether there might be some contradictions at the heart of the liberal order, whether it might contain within it the seeds of its undoing. Instead, Goldberg makes his stand on rather narrow grounds. He posits that the Enlightenment Miracle can be defended in purely secular, utilitarian terms, which he supposes are the only terms skeptics of liberal democratic capitalism will accept.