Liberalism

“Liberalism” is one of the most important terms in Anglo-American and, more broadly, Euro-American political and philosophical discourse. It derives from the English term “liberal,” which initially referred to a class of “free men” as opposed to the unfree—that is, people embedded within or bound by one or another form of socially restrictive hierarchy (Raymond Williams 1976/1983, 179–81). “Liberalism” has never shed the class meanings and elitist connotations at its root and origin, in large part because it indexes tensions and ambiguities at the heart of what are now referred to as liberal-democratic nation-states. At the same time, the term “liberal” has also retained long-standing associations with universality, open-mindedness, and tolerance linked to an advocacy of individual freedom and an antipathy to socially determined, collectively defined forms of ascription. As such, it has had special purchase for scholars of U.S. politics and culture, from Louis Hartz’s seminal critique in the …

This essay may be found on page 153 of the printed volume.

Ideologies, Money, Power
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