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Liberalism: A Counter-History Hardcover – April 1, 2011
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"A brilliant exercise in unmasking liberal pretensions, surveying over three centuries with magisterial command of the sources."—Financial Times
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Top Customer Reviews
In order to explain this book, it's important to understand what Losurdo is criticizing in this text. Liberalism, in political rhetoric and scholarly writings, presents itself as an unambiguously positive force in world history. It started with the French and American revolutions, and has spread universal values by way of a dialectical process where it overcame the irrational, violent prejudices that had previously plagued humanity. Liberal societies may have played host to slavery, white supremacy, class chauvinism, and mass disenfranchisement, but these evils were simply phases in the process of the unfolding of universal freedoms, and were contradictions that stemmed from the historically contingent circumstances of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. It's difficult to exaggerate how widespread this interpretation has become. It's a vision of liberalism that liberals and conservatives, critics on the left and the right share.Read more ›
Can slave-holders be "liberals"?
Was the Confederacy a movement toward the realization of a liberal social order?
Domenico Losurdo, who is a Marxist professor of philosophy at the University of Urbino, seems to say "yes" to these questions. Or at least he seems to argues that the people who originally asked these questions would have said "yes" because they were liberals who saw no paradox between being liberals, and believing in the equality of man, and being slaveholders. As Losurdo points out, John Locke, a fountainhead of the Enlightenment's liberal ideas about the good of limited government, individualism and tolerance, was a shareholder in the Royal African Company, and therefore had a vested interest in the slave trade. (p. 24.) Locke made no bones about his view that slavery - modern chattel slavery - was justified and good, just as he made no bones about his view that papists and the Irish were to be ruthlessly repressed. (p.25.)
Locke was not alone in this liberal "illiberalism." As Losurdo delights in pointing out, through an encyclopedic collection of quotes from the great names of liberalism, such De Tocqueville, Franklin, Jefferson, Mandeville, Franklin, Disraeli, Burke, Hume and others, were variously enthusiasts of, or apologists for, the liberal project of slavery, racism, extermination of native peoples, and oppression of the poor, in the name of the "community of the free," i.e,, those who had the education, status and virtue that made them fit to exercise their freedom. Thus, we see Jefferson talking with the equanimity of a Hitler at the prospect of the extermination of blacks and Indians (p.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
From the time of Marx/Engels the critique of liberalism has always been set against the heroic tale of its association with the triumph of democracy. Read morePublished 5 days ago by John C. Landon
"Liberalism: A Counter History" by Domenico Losurdo offers a brilliant reassessment of Western intellectual history. Dr. Read morePublished on April 28, 2014 by Malvin
I thought the book was well-written, impeccably sourced, wide-ranging, and with a thesis that can't help but make you think. Well worth your time.Published on April 13, 2014 by Simon W. Radford
The modern assault on freedom (i.e., liberalism) in some ways began with Hegel. Hegel's method, what can be called in summary "dialectical historicism", has been thoroughly... Read morePublished on December 1, 2013 by Gordon McQueen
Certainly everybody who uses the words, 'freedom' 'liberal' 'democracy', as so many do so loosely, and so many who appeal to the "New'World" model do, should read this; and... Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by orfeo5