29 episodes

A series of crises has put many liberal ideas under question. Inspired by a popular commercial concept, Liberal Reads are packaged in an easily accessible format that provides key insights in 30 minutes or less. The aim of Liberal Reads is to revisit and rethink classical works that have defined liberalism in the past, but also to introduce more recent books that drive the debate around Europe’s oldest political ideology. Liberal Reads may also engage critically with other important political, philosophical, and economic books through a liberal lens.

Curated by Antonios Nestoras, PhD.

Liberal Reads European Liberal Forum

    • Society & Culture

A series of crises has put many liberal ideas under question. Inspired by a popular commercial concept, Liberal Reads are packaged in an easily accessible format that provides key insights in 30 minutes or less. The aim of Liberal Reads is to revisit and rethink classical works that have defined liberalism in the past, but also to introduce more recent books that drive the debate around Europe’s oldest political ideology. Liberal Reads may also engage critically with other important political, philosophical, and economic books through a liberal lens.

Curated by Antonios Nestoras, PhD.

    Episode 29 - Inventing the Individual

    Episode 29 - Inventing the Individual

    Shortly after the publication of the book, Larry Siedentop wrote an article in the Financial Times denouncing the ‘moral tepidity’ of the West. The West obsessively equated liberalism with secularism and neutrality, ignoring the Medieval period, which was associated with darkness, ignorance, and superstition. Siedentop’s book, appropriately titled 'Inventing the Individual', provides a new genealogy of liberalism, giving a completely novel account of how the seeds for the appearance of this ideology were sown. Instead of looking to John Locke, Adam Smith or the Enlightenment, Siedentop finds the ‘origins of Western Liberalism’ in Christianity.

    This book is not a History of European Liberalism, but instead a history of its roots or the preconditions for the apparition of liberalism. Siedentop argues that at present, liberalism is obsessed with ideas of neutrality and non-perfectionism and that this weakened the West vis-à-vis the postulates of ideologies such as radical Islamism, which are at odds with these principles. Part of the problem, he says, comes from historical misunderstandings, including the attribution of secularism to ancient Greece and Rome, and to the aspiration to construct political ideologies that are inspired by these false memories. Instead, we should look at the ‘Dark Ages’ for our origins, an age that has been unfairly mistreated, where the preconditions for the development of the freedoms of today were established.

    • 15 min
    Episode 28 - Spontaneous order

    Episode 28 - Spontaneous order

    When thinking of “the law,” the average person in continental Europe thinks of codexes and books. The criminal code, the civil code, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB, or German Civil Code), the Code Civil, and so on are collections of legal rules that seem to be created by parliaments and governments in a top-down, rather than bottom-up, manner. The legal order the way we understand it in the twenty-first century and the way it is taught at universities thus appears to be an order that someone has created and designed.


    Friedrich August von Hayek provides an alternative view on the issue. In “Rules and Order,” the first part of Hayek’s Law, Legislation and Liberty, the Austrian thinker claims that law does not have to be the result of deliberate action and design. Contrary to the beliefs of legal positivists, he claims that for most of human history, the law has been the result of a spontaneous order similar to the market.

    • 19 min
    Episode 27 - Liberal Languages

    Episode 27 - Liberal Languages

    Liberal Languages: Ideological Imaginations and Twentieth-Century Progressive Thought is not a classic unitary manuscript in political theory but instead a collection of twelve independent essays by Michael Freeden, one of the foremost contemporary experts on liberalism. In this volume, Freeden explores questions of the role of political ideology, green thought, nationalism and the reconfiguration of the liberal tradition in the UK during the nineteenth century. In particular, he tackles the role of the New Liberals and the influence of their thinking on the development of the ideology of New Labour ideology during Tony Blair’s tenure as the Prime Minister.

    • 15 min
    Episode 26 - Liberalism: the Classical Tradition

    Episode 26 - Liberalism: the Classical Tradition

    When Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises published Liberalism in 1927, the world, particularly Europe, was going through tumultuous times. The end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, arguably some of the grimmest, most brutal and destructive years in the history of humanity, are also rightfully considered the decades of antiliberal ideas.

    While classical liberalism had already ceased to govern the minds of intellectuals and the masses alike for a long time, alternative ideologies - socialism, communism, fascism, or nationalism - were all united in their ultimate goal of dismissing the liberal, democratic, and capitalist systems.In his most influential work, Liberalism: The Classical Tradition, Ludwig von Mises proposes a concise but comprehensive defense of liberal ideas.

    Through the five chapters, Mises argues that free market capitalism is the only economic system that ensures the continued development, peaceful cooperation, and coexistence of human society. It is against this ultimate end-in-itself that Mises measures his arguments and that of others.

    • 22 min
    Episode 25 - Balancing the state of nature and social contract

    Episode 25 - Balancing the state of nature and social contract

    When we reflect on social contract theory and state of nature theory within political philosophy, John Locke is one of the first thinkers to come to mind. Of course, Locke was not the only thinker to have written on these two subjects. Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau also produced notable and influential accounts on this topic. By the state of nature theory, we refer to theories about the titular “natural state” of mankind before the formation and institution of government; in other words, theories about the state of mankind absent government. By social contract theory, we refer to theories about the reasons for which individuals in a state of nature would choose to leave this natural state and agree collectively to form and institute a government. Locke’s unique ideas about these two concepts have cemented his legacy in political philosophy.

    These ideas are presented in Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1689), specifically his Second Treatise of Government (1690). The Second Treatise is widely accepted as one of the foundational works of liberal thought, though the wider implications of Locke’s thought for contemporary political philosophy are scarcely agreed upon. An introduction to the work by Richard Ashcraft, for example, in 1987 explains that Locke’s Two Treatises were viewed thirty years ago as “the classic expression of liberal political ideas” since it was read “as a defense of individualism and of the natural right of individuals to appropriate private property.” Ashcraft writes that the Second Treatise, especially, “was often characterised as the first secular expression of political theory in the modern era.”

    • 24 min
    Episode 24 - Exploring the intellectual battlegrounds of liberalism

    Episode 24 - Exploring the intellectual battlegrounds of liberalism

    BOOK REVIEW - Francis Fukuyama "Liberalism and Its Discontents" (2022)

    By Nataliia Bovkun



    Liberalism and Its Discontents is the latest book by Francis Fukuyama, the most celebrated liberal thinker of our time. The author applies his rigorous analytical approach to the challenges faced by liberal democracies today and offers a nuanced and insightful analysis of the sources of discontent and potential solutions to these problems. He puts forward a convincing and laconic argument regarding the unchanged relevance of liberal democracy despite the criticism he has been facing in recent years.

    Although liberalism has not experienced the same level of collapse of confidence that communism did in the late 20th century, it has nonetheless faced significant challenges. Fukuyama’s book examines a range of obstacles to liberalism, such as the growth of populism, nationalism, and authoritarianism, in addition to the implications of economic and technological developments for liberal societies. The book offers a critical assessment of the current state of liberal democracies and proposes strategies for addressing the discontents that threaten their stability and legitimacy.

    • 24 min

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

Inconceivable Truth
Wavland
This American Life
This American Life
Stuff You Should Know
iHeartPodcasts
Fallen Angels: A Story of California Corruption
iHeartPodcasts
Freakonomics Radio
Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher
Shawn Ryan Show
Shawn Ryan | Cumulus Podcast Network