The Crisis of Liberalism: Prelude to Trump — by Fred Siegel, with a Forward by Joel Kotkin


In his recently released book, The Crisis of Liberalism: Prelude to Trump, Fred Siegel leverages New York City to uncover the key political conflicts and social contradictions in American liberalism over the last century. This wide-ranging collection of essays critically recounts how passionate intellectual debates and then heated cultural struggles over how to realize "the good life" in the modern city emerged from the writings of early progressive "thought leaders."

The forward to the book was written by Joel Kotkin; an excerpt follows:

With his laser-like focus on reality, Fred Siegel has inspired many, including this author, and in the process has also earned many enemies. At a time when urban pundits have largely embraced the celebratory—even amidst the wreckage of the 2020 pandemic—Siegel has been willing to show the unmistakable factors that previously led, and are once again leading, to urban decline.

Although many of his current admirers are from the right, Siegel is a product of a largely social democratic urban culture, notably epitomized by his mentor, Irving Howe, and Howe’s magazine, Dissent. Yet Siegel’s liberalism is focused not on addressing postmodern concerns such as transgender rights, reinventing American democracy as primarily an instrument of racist oppression, or the need for draconian steps to address climate change and the pandemic.

Siegel wants something more prosaic: the opportunity of ordinary, and extraordinary, people to get ahead in life. He is part of a small, albeit shrinking, cadre of urban thinkers who still think that, as Aristotle suggested, the city “comes into being for the sake of living, but it exists for the sake of living well.” In American cities, this has meant a focus on improving the economic, educational, and housing available to urban residents. It is a liberalism of results, not the current progressivism of intent.

Click here to read or download the rest of the forward written by Joel Kotkin.

Joel Kotkin is the author of the just-released book The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute — formerly the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin

Fred Siegel taught history and humanities at The Cooper Union for Science and Art for 30 years. Since then, he has been a Scholar in Residence at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. He is best known for The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York, and the Genius of American Life (2005) and The Revolt against the Masses: How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class (2015).

Fred's latest book is now available at Amazon.