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Twilight of Liberty is a sequel to Donohue's highly regarded The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union, but with a marked change in emphasis. Instead of challenging the ACLU's nonpartisan reputation, as he did in the earlier volume, Donohue now seeks to demonstrate why and how recent ACLU policy undermines the process of liberty. He argues that the ACLU, by relentlessly warring with mediating institutions, and by pushing a radical individualism in its policies, is not making us more, but less free.
Two conceptions of liberty are discussed. The first considers the social context in which the struggle for freedom takes place. It maintains that freedom is best achieved through a delicate balancing of individual rights with the legitimate needs of the social order. The other conception of liberty is atomistic, exclusively concerned with the rights of the individual. According to Donohue, such a definition assures the triumph of the state over the mediating institutions of society, thus reducing prospects for freedom.
This is the first book to critically analyze contemporary ACLU policy and to challenge its reputation as the preeminent voice of freedom in the United States. It aims to move beyond the idea that freedom is best served by pushing individual rights to extremes. Twilight of Liberty will appeal to scholars in the fields of law, social policy, and culture. Students in civil liberties courses will also find this book a valuable resource.
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