The political left and right define freedom in different ways. The right prefers negative liberty, which is defined as freedom from government interference. The left generally strives for positive liberty, that is the state must guarantee things like health care, employment, etc. As Goldberg himself points out, “What often gets left out of the debate is the fact that economic growth and technological innovation do more to provide positive liberty than any government could.” The Miracle of democratic capitalism has done more to advance the relative wealth of society than anything else in all of human history. Once we started believing that all men and women were created equal and that each of us has certain unalienable rights, the standard of living, life expectancy, and technology we have at our fingertips accelerated at an incredible rate. The idea of negative liberty taking root has been the greatest welfare program in all of human history. I don't think he should have made a purely economic argument, but I wish he had spent more time on it instead of tucking it away in an appendix.
Goldberg spends most of the book showing where we were pre- and post-Miracle, leading to the theme of gratitude. We are not grateful for what the past has given us and, as a result, are in danger of losing the spark that made the modern world as great as it is. I think his core argument can be summed up in this passage found on page 66:
Under the best of circumstances, every important endeavor requires work. Every person who has ever been married understands that marriage requires effort. Every athlete understands the importance of practice and training. Every general knows that troops lose their edge unless it is carefully maintained. The Miracle of liberal democratic capitalism is not self-sustaining. Turn your back on its maintenance and it will fall apart. Take it for granted and people will start reverting to their natural impulses of tribalism. The best will lack all conviction and the worst will be full of passionate intensity. Things will fall apart.
I fear that the left will ignore this book because of its all-consuming desire for identity and grievance politics. Some on the right will ignore it because people view Goldberg as anti-Trump. This is one thing that Goldberg is arguing against. We must not view politics as an us vs them sport where we celebrate our team's win and our enemy's loss. That is our tribal brain at work. My hope is that we're not already too far gone to realize the great gift we've been given and have debates over the best way to preserve it.