An Idea Betrayed: Jews, Liberalism, and the American Left


Pilon, Juliana Geran, PhD


Dr. Juliana Geran Pilon is Senior Fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. Among her books are The Utopian Conceit and the War on Freedom, The Art of Peace: Engaging a Complex World, Soulmates: Resurrecting Eve, Why America is Such a Hard Sell, and Notes from the Other Side of Night. The author of over 250 articles and reviews on international affairs, human rights, literature, and philosophy, her writings have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Liberty, the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS), Academic Questions, InFocus, Starting Points, Doc Emet Productions, the American Mind, and the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, among others. Born in Romania, she emigrated with her family and arrived in the U.S. as a teenager. In the 1990s she was Vice President for Programs at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), where she designed, conducted, and managed projects related to a wide variety of democratization projects.

“A fascinating tour d’horizon of how Jewish intellectuals and activists helped to define and then make a mess of American liberalism, many of them turning into radicals that undermine American democracy. Juliana Pilon has the intellectual depth to explain what happened and why, starting from the founding of the American colonies and from there to the present time. One hopes her work will reeducate all.”

- Stephen R. Bryen, founder and first Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Technology Security Administration; author of Technology Security and National Power: Winners and Losers

“A penetrating and poignant treatise on the trajectory of liberal (and illiberal) thought and the vicissitudes of Jewish history through the prism of the uplifting life story of a refugee from Communist Romania who went on to become one of the outstanding political philosophers of modern-day America.”

- Laurence Weinbaum, Chief Editor, The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, World Jewish Congress

“Come along with Juliana Geran Pilon on a fascinating, kaleidoscopic journey through the history of Jews in America from a personal perspective, and what it means for the future.”

- David E. Bernstein, University Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University, author of Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America'

“Based on her personal experience with Judaism, the unnatural character of an Eastern European communist dictatorship, and her insight as a leading American public intellectual, Juliana Pilon’s history of American liberalism helps the reader separate the liberal from the illiberal. It is an indispensable tool for anyone living in a democratic republic who is thus entrusted with the responsibility of self-governance.”

- Seth Cropsey, President, Yorktown Institute; former Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy; author of Seablindness: How Political Neglect Is Choking American Seapower and What to Do About It

In calling America “the almost chosen nation,” Abraham Lincoln invoked at once the Old Testament and the Founders’ belief in the two covenantal communities’ common ideal: equal liberty. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that ideal. Our Constitution instituted it. Although it took the Civil War to abolish the original sin of slavery, equal freedom defined the nation’s philosophical foundation. Beginning late in the nineteenth century, however, that vision of liberty under constitutionally limited government mutated into progressivism. An aggressive mix of collectivism and scientism, fueled by Marxism and other toxic European ideologies, its early expression was eugenics, its later ambitious central planning. Meanwhile, an influx of immigrants during times of economic displacement would kindle widespread xenophobia, while populist distrust of financial profit, often associated with Jews, would stoke anti-Semitism. Over time, equal freedom fell into disrepute. Among the idea-elites, “right-wing” and “conservative” became pejoratives. But the rise of the Soviet Union and the aftermath of World War II proved a watershed for Americans, especially for American Jews, for those developments placed the liberal idea in a clarifying geopolitical context. Today, with equality and equity often used synonymously, a conflation of anti-capitalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism has gained prominence while Islamists make common cause with the enemies of freedom from within. Given the stakes, Jews must reassert the basic principles of their ancient tradition, which are also America’s.

Political Science, History, American Studies, Political Philosophy, Ideology, Intellectual History, Religion, Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Anti-Semitism
Release Date: 
March 7, 2023
9781680538281, Hardcover; 9781680538304 Paperback
$79.95 Hardcover; $28.95 Paperback
Trim Size: 

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