- oD 50.50
On the one hand, being ‘liberal’ has conventionally been regarded as being open-minded and progressive, while on the other hand, liberals are often attacked for either being insufficiently radical, by the left, or being too ‘progressive’, by the right. The prevailing definition of liberalism has traditionally revolved around tolerance, progress, humanitarianism, objectivity, respect for and promotion of reason, democracy, human rights, etc. Yet despite receiving a very good press throughout its history, liberalism has also been subject to passionate and sustained critiques by the left and the right.
Liberals and liberalism remain very relevant in contemporary neoliberal circumstances as sources of ideas and action. This series aims to provoke critical engagement with the theories, histories, practices and contradictions of liberalism today, in particular by taking specific contemporary topics as a way of assessing the transformations in, as well as the transformative aspects of, liberalism. We have invited contributions that reflect on how liberalism – in all its forms – continues to underpin specific institutions such as the university, the ‘free press’ and the digital sphere and how these ideas are mobilised in areas such as human rights, minority rights and liberal political cultures. We may not agree on much but we can certainly agree that liberalism is simply too important to be left to the liberals.
Liberalism was undoubtedly conceived as an emancipatory project, one which duly recognized the value and dignity of the individual. However, from its very inception, this model of social interaction has been fraught by terrible contradictions. In our neoliberal times, its legacy should be critically assessed more than ever.
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