It is said that ‘to be liberal is to be divided’. Does liberalism’s imperative of freedom, then, stem from the fact that no one really knows what is right and true? If so, freedom is living dangerously. In this book, Lena Andersson argues for the opposite: Freedom arises from our ability to discern what is right and true through thinking, not just through measuring or feeling. The basis of freedom is not ambivalence – there is nothing indolent or slapdashabout it. Freedom is the pillar of reason in the flesh.
For whom does man exist, for himself or for some ‘higher’ purpose? No matter how fast we race into the future, we can never escape Antiquity and the fundamental questions of philosophy. Even today, they are clawing and tugging at our moment in history. From one direction, a view of society in which growth trumps all else; from the other direction, identity politics. They, too, claim ‘freedom’ as theirs. Yet according to both, freedom is offered to humanity conditionally, ours only as long as it advances the goals of society. They are pseudo-liberal.
Lena Andersson believes that philosophy and rational thinking are liberalism’s best defense. She starts out, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, by rallying behind Plato in the fight against the Sophists. She proceeds to track their followers through history, into today’s leftist identity politics, right-wing nationalism, and other lairs of pseudo-liberalism.
Those who know Andersson as a novelist are offered a glimpse of the philosophical issues that shape her view of the human encounters explored in her novels. For those who are fans of Andersson’s opinion pieces, this book will be a delight. In On false and true liberalism, Lena Andersson lays out how everything is connected: society, the contemporary moment, and why we should not only choose liberalism, but choose the truekind.
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