In the third ‘Easter’ season of ELF’s Liberal Reads, we continue to delve into the intellectual wealth of liberal thinking and explore the relevance of the classical works as well as more recent reflections on freedom in modern society and politics. In this new season, we have also engaged new talented authors who share their thoughts on crucial liberal values.  

The Edition starts with the classical work by John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration (Episode 18). Written in 1689, this piece zooms onto the critical value of tolerance in times when this concept was by far not a given in Western societies. The review by Nayeli L. Riano provides a nuanced insight into Locke’s reasoning on the issue that laid the foundation of the liberal thought. 

In Episode 19, Luke Hallam’s review of Two Concepts of Liberty by Isaiah Berlin (1958) pays tribute to one of the key conceptual distinctions in the liberal thought: a difference between the negative freedom ‘against’ and the positive freedom ‘to’. Both the classical work and the review focus on the prior need for a deep understanding of what liberty itself means in order to be able to then distinguish among its forms and assess them. 

In her masterful review, Mathilde Berger-Perrin analyses another classical book – Atlas Shrugged (1957) by Ayn Rand (Episode 22). The work brings up the value of creativity and freedom for human progression and the dangers of regulating and limiting it. This liberal utopia is a praise to harmony without authority, which is only achievable when every individual human is at once virtuous, reasonable, and spontaneous.  

Three other reviews present the liberal works written in our times. We start with the modern classics, The End of History and the Last Man (1992), by Francis Fukuyama. Episode 20 by Luke Hallam discusses the nuances of Fukuyama’s concepts and statements that have become legendary. In his balanced analysis, the reviewer sheds light on what exactly was meant by the author, whose ideas have profoundly influenced the liberal thought of the early 21st century.  

Last but not least, in the two remaining reviews, Tirso Virgos brilliantly examines the recent liberal works against the current political context and the state of liberalism in Europe. In Episode 21, the light is shed on Helena Rosenblatt’s The Lost History of Liberalism (2018), which traces the genealogy of liberalism from centuries ago and traces the perception of liberalism throughout history. The reviewer distinguishes several cross-cutting issues and reflects on the lessons for contemporary liberals. Finally, recent Liberalism in Dark Times (2021) by Joshua Cherniss makes the focus of Episode 23. It brings up a controversial question about striking a subtle balance between the liberal ethos and the liberal theory of justice. The review discusses the role of institutions in finding a ‘third way’ between the maximalist exigence of political idealism, on the one hand, and the human values of tolerance and kindness, on the other.  

We hope our midseason Easter Edition will spice up your spring – from the Easter break all the way till the summer holidays, for which we are already preparing the next portion of our Liberal Reads.  

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