The Catholic University of America Press

After Ideology

Recovering the Spriitual Foundations of Freedom

David Walsh

Paper 978-0-8132-0833-6 $14.95
October 1995 Out of Print

The crises of the twentieth century--wars, genocide, the proliferation of atomic weapons, the rise and fall of communism, the breakup of the family--have shaken our faith in modernity and in the fundamental conceit upon which it is grounded: that human beings are capable of providing their own moral and political order. Ideologies based on this conceit have at their heart the revolt against God that has so characterized modern history, and these ideologies have failed us. As David Walsh writes, "We are now at the stage where all the ideological systems have been tried and found wanting, and there are no more new ones waiting to be tried."

Walsh contends that the solution is to recover the spiritual foundations of freedom and order. To make his case, he draws lessons from the intellectual pilgrimages of four contemporary thinkers who overcame the modern spirit of revolt against God: Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, Camus, and Voegelin. He shows how each confronted the full consequences of secular messianism and found within his own experience the means of overcoming it. In the process of mounting a critique of modernity and articulating the direction in which the alternative lies, the four recovered what is in essence philosophic Christianity. They show us that beyond nihilism, beyond the revolt against God, there is the existential rediscovery of transcendent truth. Since their struggle is representative, their resolution is also representative. Philosophic Christianity can become a living source of order for society as a whole if we, like the four thinkers Walsh discusses, uncover the truth in the experiences of our own modern world.

Walsh believes liberal democracy is redeemable, but that its redemption hinges on our return to a proper understanding of human nature and to a spiritual foundation based on Christian principles. We must first recognize, however, that without God, without moral absolutes, without divine order, we can not resolve our worldwide modern crises.


David Walsh was born in Ireland and educated at University College Dublin and the University of Virginia. He is professor and chair of the department of politics at The Catholic University of America.


"A stimulating and encouraging book. Walsh's analysis of the nature of the modern project and why it had to fail is provocative and profound, not to mention timely. . . . As an introduction to the work of Camus, Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and especially Voegelin, After Ideology may well be unexcelled. Walsh's synoptic review of the works of these thinkers in light of social and political developments they all but predicted is nothing short of thrilling."--Crux

"Leads readers into the heart of the spiritual and political crisis of the twentieth century. Discussing writers who have experienced this crisis most deeply, and responded to it most creatively, Walsh displays impressive learning and insight. On page after page there are comments that strike sparks of light in the darkness of our times."--Glenn Tinder, author of The Political Meaning of Christianity

Product Details

Pages:xix, 296 pages

Dimensions:6x9 inches


CIP Information: BTZ738.W332/


1. Sociology, Christian

2. Christianity, Philosophy

3. Political Science, Philosophy

4. Conservatism

5. Liberty

6. Freedom (Theology)

7. Ideology