“Liberalism in Neoliberal Times: Dimensions, Contradictions, Limits” (Abraham-Hamanoiel et al. eds)

Pity the poor neoliberal. He is today besieged by both right and left, as fissures in the Bad Neoliberalismfusionist and “liberal-tarian” camps are all too visible. Neoliberalism has become one of those near-dog-whistle-level epithets for those of more traditional progressive or conservative outlooks. Here is a volume whose authors’ aim clearly is to distinguish a progressive liberalism from a libertarian-infused liberalism–that is, a classical liberalism. Not too much explicitly about religion in the description; indeed, usually religion makes its appearance in the ‘defusionist’ literature, rather than this type of book. But still of interest to readers of this blog. The publisher is MIT. The description is below.

What does it mean to be a liberal in neoliberal times? This collection of short essays attempts to show how liberals and the wider concept of liberalism remain relevant in what many perceive to be a highly illiberal age. Liberalism in the broader sense revolves around tolerance, progress, humanitarianism, objectivity, reason, democracy, and human rights. Liberalism’s emphasis on individual rights opened a theoretical pathway to neoliberalism, through private property, a classically minimal liberal state, and the efficiency of “free markets.” In practice, neoliberalism is associated less with the economic deregulation championed by its advocates than the re-regulation of the economy to protect financial capital. Liberalism in Neoliberal Times engages with the theories, histories, practices, and contradictions of liberalism, viewing it in relation to four central areas of public life: human rights, ethnicity and gender, education, and the media. The contributors explore the transformations in as well as the transformative aspects of liberalism and highlight both its liberating and limiting capacities.

The book contends that liberalism—in all its forms— continues to underpin specific institutions such as the university, the free press, the courts, and, of course, parliamentary democracy. Liberal ideas are regularly mobilized in areas such as counterterrorism, minority rights, privacy, and the pursuit of knowledge. This book contends that while we may not agree on much, we can certainly agree that an understanding of liberalism and its emancipatory capacity is simply too important to be left to the liberals.

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