Powerlessness and Unfairness

A Letter to Jan Zielonka

in Democratic Theory

Jan Zielonka’s Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a furious, worried pamphlet on the challenges that European democracies are currently facing, on the apparent rise of illiberalism. This article critically reviews the book and seeks to offer a somewhat different and perhaps more optimistic picture of the current predicaments of European politics. The main point of reference in this respect is Finland, a country whose political institutions have managed, by and large, to uphold a sense of coherence in society. A commitment to participatory, equality-based, and freedom-generating institutions can indeed be seen as a primary means to counter the decline of liberalism.

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Democratic Theory

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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