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Liberalism: A Counter-History

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  74 ratings  ·  8 reviews
In this definitive historical investigation, Italian author and philosopher Domenico Losurdo argues that from the outset liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has been bound up with the most illiberal of policies: slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism and snobbery.

Narrating an intellectual history running from the eighteenth through to the twentieth centur
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Verso (first published 2005)
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Tombom P
Great book. Not always a coherent narrative but goes through a lot of key points relating to liberalism' s consistent racism and authoritarianism outside the self declared freemen. Shows how the most murderous episodes in colonialism were justified and applauded by key liberal figures. Has problems defining liberalism exactly, but as he says this is down to its incredible flexibility and the conflict between the space of freemen where liberal ideals hold and the space outside where freemen are j ...more
Aniruddh Mohan
Scholarly, empirical and exacting in his approach, Losurdo has brilliantly traced the evolution of liberal thought and its enduring flexibility to react to the political-economy of the time. He illustrates how the same thought system responsible for limiting political power and extending freedom was also comfortable in justifying slavery, genocide, class repression and racial supremacy. A must read if you want to understand liberal thought and the dichotomies that it painfully repressed.
It's fitting to read this book the day after the most neoliberal congress in the nation's history has only become more neoliberal. Suddenly The Washington Consensus seems a bit of an understatement in regard to labels. In this country free market economics (which has never realized it's rather dubious promise of 'a rising tide...' by the way), is more an essential organ. Even those ostensibly on the left in this country are quick, oh so quick, to leave the economic mantra undisturbed. 'It works! ...more
Micheal Gumbert
This was a horrible book. For one thing he talks about basically only one thing slavery and I understand slavery is one of the worst parts of American history. But for the love of God every decision the US made was not made around it and he decries the system America created while never acknowledging that it's been around longer than any democratic system in the history of the world. Plus he basically just cherry picks the worse parts of an ideology and basically says people were this or that Je ...more
Otto Lehto
This book is important and well-researched (with one important caveat that will be handled in a moment), but riddled with enough problems to seriously mar its standing as a definitive "counter-history" to liberalism's self-serving golden fairy-tale. (It barely deserves four stars, so this might as well be a three-star review. Consider it thus.)

The book makes the case that liberalism, far from being the counterforce to oppression, tyranny, slavery and war, has (almost) always, in fact, defended a
Jacques le fataliste et son maître
È agghiacciante il panorama presentato in questo libro: le più lucide teorizzazioni e le più ispirate proclamazioni della libertà si sono quasi sempre accompagnate a una chiusura mentale impensabile di fronte alla percezione di sé, alla percezione del soggetto libero e alla definizione del suo “limite” – in una parola: di fronte a coloro che restavano esclusi dalla libertà (di volta in volta i popoli di colore schiavizzati, i nativi americani sterminati, i bianchi poveri sfruttati, le donne cui ...more
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