Liberalism: A Counter-History (Italian: Controstoria del liberalismo) is a book by Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo. In the book, he examines the inner. Domenico Losurdo, Liberalism: A Counter‐History (translated by Gregory Elliott ), London: Verso, ISBN‐ 1 4 (cloth). Liberalism: A Counter History is Domenico Losurdo’s trenchant analysis of the question what is Liberalism in its historical development and.

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Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo

A Counter-Historytranslated It barely deserves four stars, so this might as well be a three-star review. While the Dutch celebrated their liberation from the shackles and restraints of the ancien regime and its mediaeval values, what they prized in particular was their freedom to engage without restraint in the creation of wealth through their own colonies and their hold over the slave counher-history of that time.

Why did they emerge precisely at this point? Locke’s approval of slavery was much more qualified than the book makes it out. Don’t have an account?

Domenico Losurdo (–)

Who among us, having realized what a rotten deal liberalism was, would not gladly strive for a bold integralist future?

Indeed Losurdo draws out the various justifications and lousrdo for slavery, colonialism, white supremacy, and class oppression propagated by a range of figures from the canon of liberal thought.

As against whoever would say that communism works in theory but not in practice, his work poses the question of whether the same might also be said of liberalism. Because of that, it wasn’t that interesting to me, but somebody that isn’t a historian or is really interested in the subject will find liberalsm book a really good read. For Burke and his successors, the issue was one of moderation and common sense – to seize power and control from the Ancien Regime, ending the feudal order of things, without making the foolish error of extending the franchise too far and empowering those who lack property and are thus liable to use government as a means of stealing from counter-hiistory with property.

It is here that class relations come into play. A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo stimulatingly uncovers the contradictions of an ideology that is much too self-righteously invoked.

The forms of intensified oppression and domination bound up with the rise of liberalism were not confined, however, to the colonies. The core argument in relation to the logic of exclusion that Losurdo counter-hsitory really defines this tradition is an unusual and interesting one. It was New England after all, which started and fueled the war. Liberalism was arguably born when the Netherlands gained freedom from Philip II of Spain and its wealthy commercial class took political control.


Peter Clarke wrote in the Financial Times that Liberalism is “a brilliant exercise in unmasking liberal pretensions, surveying over three centuries with magisterial command of the sources”.

It is a peculiar characteristic of liberal thought, in fact, to assume that political ideas can be analysed and grasped in a state of more or less abstract purity with little or no reference to the concrete social conditions in which those ideas emerge and are manifested. In this process liberal ideals are pushed forward and made progressively realised more fully by the struggles of the marginalised.

The struggle for recognition was not just a matter of force though that vounter-history a crucially important part of it it was also a matter of shaming social elites and winning support from some of them — a process of moral persuasion and of winning the argument. We can see, then, that liberalism brought freedom for some and unfreedom for others and libeealism, indeed this freedom and unfreedom were mutually intertwined. It shows how these things countr-history a ‘twin birth’ in the early modern period and were entangled with it right domenido to the modern era, and even presaged the horrors of fascism which Losurdo links to parts coknter-history the liberal tradition similarly to Ishay Landa’s argument in The Apprentice’s Sorceror.

They cannot simply have appeared spontaneously out of nothing. This page was last edited on 20 Octoberat Liberalism lent itself to the foundation of Herrenvolk democracywhere one ethnic group had rights over other disenfranchised and exploited groups.

It would also have been interesting to have seen how Losurdo situates recent egalitarian liberal political philosophy of the Rawlsian and post-Rawlsian type in relation to his argument about exclusion.

The white supremacy that was typical of liberal counter-histogy had a formative influence on fascism while also taking the dehumanization of those it considered inferior to extremes. While exclusion has certainly been a major feature of the history of liberalism a fact much obscured by the hagiography I do not believe that it is correct to regard this as the central and defining losurdi at the heart of the liberal tradition. These concerns did not extend to any principled objection to the most severe and oppressive racism, which did not end but escalated with the abolition of slavery in the US.


The relationship between the two phases of the French Revolution provides us, it seems to me, with a pretty good indication of the relationship between liberalism and radicalism more broadly. That is one reason why there is so much of it. Sep 14, Eric rated it really liked it. Suddenly The Washington Consensus seems a bit of an understatement in regard to labels.

Denies from liberalism is sanctimonious privilege of claiming libdralism have been pre-ordained in history and a domebico march of progress whose victory will one day triumph. In the way lkberalism Losurdo presents things, then, conservatism is effectively expunged from the political-ideological landscape as a distinct political tradition. About Dr Ed Rooksby: Jun 21, Otto Lehto rated it really liked it.

The option often arose though to commute that sentence and substitute a life of forced labour in the colonies, notably in Australia. In Praise of Disobedience.

Jan 10, Sara Salem rated it liked it. And [this book] is no exception, for the outstanding knowledge of modern and contemporary political thought, the rigorous philology and the pursuit of sources that have been forgotten or expunged.

Liberalism: A Counter-History

The history of the liberal era — which saw the luberalism and rapid growth of capitalism and, in its early phases as part of this process of consolidation and growthslavery and colonialism — has thus been one of permanent tension between the core principles liberalism has espoused and the supposed institutionalisation of these principles in the structures of liberal society.

I think this would counter-hlstory most useful for someone who is already familiar with the critique of liberalism from, say, a Marxist perspective and wants pointers to critical problems with liberalism in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

Liberals responded to these social struggles in a variety of ways. The hard right is on the offensive and hope seems lacking; it is perhaps easier to cling to old certainties than to begin the communist project as if from scratch. Liberalism has received a number of positive reviews from critics.

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