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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But this intervention is best explained in terms of the popular masses seeking directly to stake a claim in the new order of liberty and equality that had been declared earlier in the revolution.

Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Some of the most damning passages and quotations that Losurdo uses to illustrate the dark history of liberalism are gathered from figures probably better categorised as conservative than as liberal — Calhoun, for example.

If so, what is all the guilt and embarrassment about? This harshness towards the poor was reflected in increasingly draconian criminal penalties.

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.

There was a bit of cheap conflation with historical figures views on one issue being taken to represent their entire effect.

This is basically a polemic about how all the guys who talked about the brotherhood of man were also very into having slaves. At least liberals engaged and changed the world, whereas conservatives were happy to leave things the way they were, stagnant, with autocratic monarchies and stifling religions.

Liberalism: A Counter-History – Wikipedia

Domenico Losurdo, A Marxist Philosopher Against the Current The author of multiple books, Losurdo focused on uncomfortable political leaders and themes that mainstream thought preferred to banish. Best read in tandem with Ferrara’s Liberty: Return to Book Page.

Vomenico think this is pretty critical – Losurdo reads liberalism against itself, but does not mean to imply that liberalism was just an losureo, cynical gambit. Shows how the most murderous episodes in colonialism were justified and applauded by key liberal figures. This tradition has a complex relationship with liberalism for the author, but Losurdo tends to treat them as more or less clearly distinct traditions.

Also notes how the defence of slavery required clearly “anti-liberal” policies – the maintenance of slavery was more important than, for example, white people’s rights to distribute abolitionist pamphlets or even speak domenic it, and interesting also more important than slave owner’s rights to give their slaves an education.


He blamed the Jews and set out a full account of the mechanics by which this conspiracy operated.

Of course, the production of a fully comprehensive history of liberalism would have been a mammoth lsourdo and could not domennico have been squeezed into one book. While I loved the argument that only Toussant L’Overture and Simon Bolivar were the only truly successful liberals if we take the pop culture understanding of the word into the past, I feel like Alexander Hamilton should have gotten a mention even though he wasn’t an executive leader.

I suspect that Losurdo would have had great difficulty in integrating contemporary liberal theory into his overall schema — is this, perhaps, one reason why his history ends where it does?

Liberalism is Dead Issue 2: Liberal philosophy, in other words, is continually engaged in an agonised and doomenico process of trying to square a liberallsm. Shows how quite a few liberals at the time hated the French Revolution for going too far in empowering too many people, instead of following the example of England and restricting power to a privileged few.

At the same time, Losurdo is keen to stress the conflicts within liberalism and the emergence of a challenge simultaneously from without and within – the challenge of counter-hixtory radicalism which verged on socialism, a discordant liberalism from below which demanded the expansion of its sacred space and an end to its exclusions. But liberals have changed their spots.

A house of peers refers to white upper class men, and not anything else, at least according to many early American philosophers and politicians.

Liberalism: A Counter-History

Liberal individuals are equal primarily in terms of their individuality. This lack could be attributed to a disease or to a congenital defect. That being said, its not a bad way of learning abut them! Here, Losurdo succeeded more in exposing the grim origins of liberalism, and the crimes this engendered, than showing its fundamental, permanent need for particular forms of exclusion or still less, slavery.

This was epitomized by his recent study of Western Marxism. These principles are imbued with an inherently subversive quality in that they are always implicitly in conflict with social structures and institutions that manifest inequality and oppression. Britain of course retained a huge interest in slavery through its colonies but the language of Liberalism did lack clarity on the subject.

He is trying to justify the concrete forms of class and racial oppression that he supports and to reconcile these through various theoretical acrobatic contortions with the core normative principles he claims to espouse.


But before Domenico Losurdo was struck down by a brain tumor, the Italian Marxist had been at the height of his powers.

Domenico Losurdo (–)

In the liberal approach human beings are, first and foremost, individuals. Losurdo characterizes the dominant narrative regarding liberalism as hagiographyrepresenting a gradual process of the expansion of liberty to all people. Not relevant to reviewing the book, but I also have to say there was a bit of delicious irony for a Marxist to write a book about a utopian ideology which is actually dependent on forced labor, fundamentally oppressive towards minorities and legally proclaimed outsiders anyone remember the USSR’s classification of ‘former persons’?

Has problems defining liberalism exactly, but as he says this is down to its incredible flexibility and the conflict between the space of freemen where liberal ideals hold and the space outside where freemen are justified in any action up to genocide.

It wasn’t all freedom and liberty, Liberalism often justified the most brutal and despicable trade. Sep 19, Sami Eerola rated it it was amazing Shelves: The author’s critique of liberalism as founded in racial and class exclusion is thoroughly documented in the writings of Locke, de Tocqueville, Mill, and many other exponents of liberalism.

But secondly, more importantly, valuing the merits of the book is easy: England devised such a range of property crimes for which the penalty was death, including the crime of poaching if a non landowner took a wild bird or beast for food, that it shocked the rest of Europe. This book does not necessarily get to political, rather it examines the racial bigotry that much of the world suffered from in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jan 31, John Victor rated it really liked it. Analysed in this way the history of liberalism as a political movement is a history of coercive expropriation, violence, racism and exploitation as much as, if not even more than, it is a history of the unfolding extension of modern individual liberty, political rights and so on.

In this veneration of the USSR and indeed China which he continued to see as a country on the path to socialism, via a kind of modern New Economic PolicyLosurdo sharply rejected any junking of twentieth-century history.

Who among us, having realized what a rotten deal libe Best read in tandem with Ferrara’s Liberty: