Liberalism Against Itself by Samuel Moyn


Liberalism Against Itself by Samuel Moyn
Liberalism Against Itself by Samuel Moyn @ Photo Courtesy: Yale University Press



Book: Liberalism Against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times

By Samuel Moyn

Publisher: Yale University Press, 2023    |     ISBN: 9780300266214

Publication Date: 29 August 2023         |      Length: 240 pages

“The trajectories of Cold War politics and the age of liberalism are distinct. Scholars have reconsidered the concept of liberalism both before and after the Cold War due to the chaos and anarchy that emerged after World War II, particularly in Europe. Despite being viewed as a tool to combat irregularities globally, Samuel Moyn challenges the fundamental principles of liberalism. Liberalism Against Itself examines the perspectives of prominent scholars like Judith Shklar, Isaiah Berlin, and Karl Popper in the context of cold war liberalism, as well as the struggles faced by scholars in post-war and post-Cold War politics. The book delves into the history of reinterpreting Cold war liberalism and raises questions about its continued relevance in the 21st century. Critical reflection on this topic encourages fresh thinking and new perspectives on long-standing ideas of liberalism. A veritable compendium of knowledge, elucidating upon the intricacies of our current political landscape — an indispensable read for any reader.”

Council for Global Cooperation review


Liberalism Against Itself Overview

By the middle of the twentieth century, many liberals looked glumly at the world modernity had brought about, with its devastating wars, rising totalitarianism, and permanent nuclear terror. They concluded that, far from offering a solution to these problems, the ideals of the Enlightenment, including emancipation and equality, had instead created them. The historian of political thought Samuel Moyn argues that the liberal intellectuals of the Cold War era—among them Isaiah Berlin, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Karl Popper, Judith Shklar, and Lionel Trilling—transformed liberalism but left a disastrous legacy for our time.

In his iconoclastic style, Moyn outlines how Cold War liberals redefined the ideals of their movement and renounced the moral core of the Enlightenment for a more dangerous philosophy: preserving individual liberty at all costs. In denouncing this stance, as well as the recent nostalgia for Cold War liberalism as a means to counter illiberal values, Moyn presents a timely call for a new emancipatory and egalitarian liberal philosophy—a path to undoing the damage of the Cold War and to ensuring the survival of liberalism.

— Yale University Press, 2023


About The Author:


Chair of the Global Europe Program and Member, Board of Governors, CGC

Read more