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Liberalism in Israel

Between the ‘Good Person’ and the ‘Bad Citizen’

Menachem Mautner

normal life. Sacrifice, as opposed to normality, is also a problematic concept for liberal political theory. In his important book, Putting Liberalism in Its Place , Paul Kahn (2005) claims that a major weakness of liberal political theory is its

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Liberalism in the breach

Dace Dzenovska

This afterward draws together insights from the articles in the special section on liberalism and points to a growing disjuncture between the liberalism of those who claim to represent liberalism and the liberalism of those who are accused of illiberalism even as they engage in a variety of liberal practices. The articles suggest that it is important to look for capillary liberal practices in the shadows of the current liberal battlegrounds. This might require a renaming exercise to distinguish the currently dominant form of liberalism from its more subtle manifestations.

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The Rise of Danish Agrarian Liberalism

Jeppe Nevers

In the literature on European history, World War I and the interwar years are often portrayed as the end of the age of liberalism. The crisis of liberalism dates back to the nineteenth century, but a er the Great War, criticism of liberalism intensified. But the interwar period also saw a number of attempts to redefine the concept. This article focuses on the Danish case of this European phenomenon. It shows how a profound crisis of bourgeois liberalism in the late nineteenth century le the concept of liberalism almost deserted in the first decades of the twentieth century, and how strong state regulation of the Danish economy during World War I was crucial for an ideologization of the rural population and their subsequent orientation toward the concept of liberalism.

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Grammars of liberalism

Taras Fedirko, Farhan Samanani, and Hugh F. Williamson

Liberalism has been fundamental to the making of the modern world, at times shaping basic assumptions as to the nature of the political, and in other cases existing as a delimited political project in contention with others. Across its long history, liberal projects have taken a diverse range of forms, which resist easy reduction to a single logic or history. This diversity, however, has often escaped anthropological attention. In this introduction to our special section on Grammars of Liberalism, we briefly trace this historical diversity, interrogate anthropological approaches to conceptualising liberalism and offer a broad framework for studying liberalism that remains attentive to both continuity and difference. First, we argue for attention to how the political claims made by liberal projects unfold at the levels of values, their interrelations (morphology) and the underlying rules governing the expression and combination of values, and their intelligibility as liberal (grammar). Second, we argue for empirical attention to how values are expressed and liberal projects assembled across different social forms. We argue that this approach enables anthropology to grasp the diversity of liberal political projects and subject positions while still allowing scholars to approach liberalism critically and to interrogate its underlying logics.

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Liberalism in fragments

Oligarchy and the liberal subject in Ukrainian news journalism

Taras Fedirko

This article explores the place of liberal subjectivity in the professional culture of Ukrainian journalists to analyse how ideas originating in contexts of hegemonic liberalism at the core of the global capitalist system, are taken up on its postsocialist margins. I outline how certain Anglo‐American notions of good journalistic practice, which encode traits of liberal subjectivity, are borrowed and elaborated by a Western‐funded movement for an anti‐oligarchic liberal media reform in Ukraine. These ideals are then taken up within oligarch‐controlled media, a context that the reformers see as inimical to liberalism. Through an ethnographic portrait of an editor‐censor at a major oligarch‐owned TV channel in Ukraine, I analyse how these professional ideals simultaneously uphold oligarchic patronage and extend the reach of liberal politics in Ukraine. This reveals how in the force field of global capitalism both the reformers and those whom they seek to reform are part of the same, contradictory and fractured, liberal formation. I propose that to better understand cases like this, we need to learn to see liberalism in fragments: as always partial and incomplete and as constituted by multiple elements.

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Liberalism's Historical Diversity

A Comparative Conceptual Exploration

José María Rosales

Rooted in late seventeenth-century theories of rights, liberal ideas have brought forth since the nineteenth century a full-edged complex of traditions in moral, political, economic, social, and legal thought. Yet in historiographical debates such complexity is often blurred by presenting it under the uniform terms of a canon. Along with other methods, conceptual history is contributing to the rediscovery of liberalism's diversity. This group of articles compiles three conceptual studies on scarcely explored aspects of the history of liberalism in Denmark, Finland, and Hungary—countries whose political past has only occasionally figured in mainstream accounts of European liberalism. This introductory article is a methodological discussion of the rationale and forms in which liberalism's historical diversity is rendered through comparative conceptual research. After reflecting on the limits of the Anglophone history of political thought to grasp the plurality of liberal traditions, the article examines how transnational conceptual histories recast the understanding of liberalism as a concept, theory, ideology, and political movement.

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Religion and the Fable of Liberalism

The Case of Hobbes

Joshua Mitchell

Because Hobbes is understood to be a proto-liberal thinker, a great deal hinges on how we understand his writings. Does he contribute to the development of a purely secular political self-understanding, as many liberals today claim? And, by extension, does that mean that liberal thought today best stands on a purely secular foundation? What, then, should we make of the extensive theological speculation throughout his Leviathan ? Here, I argue that to reconcile the seemingly purely secular claims in Leviathan with the obviously religious claims found there we must move beyond reading him in terms of what I here call 'the fable of liberalism', and comprehend Leviathan as a whole in terms of Reformation era debates between Protestants and Roman Catholics about the limits and purview of reason. Understood in that way we see his claims about 'reason' in a new and important light. Rather than being an inevitable development that comes to supercede honour and glory, as the fable of liberalism suggests, 'reason' is seen to have an historically contingent character, whose parameters are established by wagers about the meaning of religious experience.

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Uncovering the Historic Strands of Egalitarian Liberalism in South Africa

Saul Dubow

Liberalism in South Africa has attracted criticism from many quarters. A persistent objection focuses on the association between liberalism and capitalism, with liberals often cast as defenders of privilege and inequity and thereby as aligned with domination rather than liberation. This characterisation relies on a great deal of oversimplification. The length of the South African liberal tradition, and its diverse influences, means that South African liberalism resists easy definition. It is better seen as a family of resemblances than in terms of a lineage. The historical development of South African liberalism has therefore to be understood, above all, in terms of local conditions and contexts. By looking at its long history in this manner, it is possible to identify persistent strands of thought that are often disposed to support redistributive mechanisms. These may not be fully egalitarian and they may be pursued for pragmatic and prudential ends rather than as a matter of principle. Nevertheless, they include principled opposition to apartheid policies. Free-market ideologues have been exceptional within the long liberal tradition. An historical appreciation of the redistributive components of South African liberalism may help those who wish to revive modern liberalism as a social democratic movement.

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Liberalism, Pluralism and the Sphere Division in Harold Laski

Gal Gerson

historical strands of liberalism and to grant the consequent synthesis a character which is independent of its constitutive parts. In Laski's work, the centrality that pluralist theory grants to voluntary groups mediates the tensions between differing

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The Nemesis of the Suburbs

Richard Turner and South African Liberalism

Steven Friedman

When he pointed the way out of the cul-de-sac of the white liberalism of the 1970s, Rick Turner directly inspired a radical politics, which reshaped white resistance in the 1970s. Revisiting his life and work offers an alternative to a similar