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Libéralisme

Posté le mardi 12 août 2014 par Letel

liberal

Un livre sur l’histoire d’une idée, le libéralisme, libéralisme économique et libéralisme politique, libéralisme au sens américain (de gauche) et libéralisme au sens européen (pro-marché)

Wall Street Journal :

In the 19th century, liberal attacks on authority dismayed the traditionalist members of society. Little could they imagine what was to come—not only, in the modern era, a celebration of radical individual autonomy but a new sort of orthodoxy enforced with Jacobin severity. Mr. Fawcett sees a backlash against liberalism in the anti-immigrant views of Marine le Pen in France and in the views of America’s « resentful conservatives, » who resist, say, the celebration of multiculturalism or the normalizing of homosexuality and legalizing of abortion. He neglects to mention another sort of backlash: the tendency of « liberals » today to assume that whatever they hold to be in error has no rights—a truly illiberal idea.

New York Times :

Historians of ideas, especially liberal ones, nearly always stumble on what has been called das Adam Smith Problem: How can we reconcile Smith’s defense of the impersonal market in “The Wealth of Nations” with his insistence on the importance of sympathy in “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”? Fawcett, who views Smith as a pre-liberal, thankfully skips over this issue. Alas, however, this only means that he comes face to face with das Friedrich Hayek Problem. Hayek, the 20th-­century Austrian-born laissez-faire economist, is immensely important to Fawcett and a recurrent character in the book. Yet how can Hayek’s insistence on spontaneity and freedom be reconciled with his intellectual rigidity, distrust of progress and unconcern with social justice? Fawcett concludes that no such reconciliation is possible. “The suspicion never went away that his entire system rested on expediency — that no concern, in other words, be it for justice, law, rights or privacy — mattered save as how it furthered economic growth.” This is regrettably awkward prose. Who has such suspicions? I know I do. Does Fawcett?

The Economist :

SOMETIMES it seems as if liberalism is slowly caving in. Western democracies are battered by partisanship and populism. Inequality is undermining social cohesion. Governments are unconvincingly shoring up expensive welfare states that have failed to match their promise. Meanwhile, the running is being made by places such as Turkey, which has an intolerant majority, and China and Russia, where power cannot be contested. “Liberalism” by Edmund Fawcett is not only a gripping piece of intellectual history, it also equips the reader to understand today’s threats—and how they might be withstood.

“Liberal” in the vocabulary of Mr Fawcett, for many years on the staff of The Economist, does not mean Democratic in the American sense, fanatically free-market in the French, or bearded and sandals-wearing in the British. Instead liberalism is a protean set of beliefs—in progress, scepticism towards authority and respect for individuals—that have been central to the formation of modern Western democracy. Neither is Mr Fawcett setting out to write directly about today. Instead, he traces the evolution of liberalism from its roots in the Enlightenment. The result is a scrapbook, assembled out of thumbnail biographies and historical vignettes, interleaved with philosophical argument and snippets of economics. Mr Fawcett’s erudition and his voluminous list of sources attest to a lifetime’s engagement with liberalism, both in the academy and at the hustings.

Though the sketches are sometimes tantalisingly brief, the scrapbook method gives the book two distinctive traits. One is that France and Germany feature almost as much as Britain and America. John Stuart Mill and James Madison have to share a berth with François Guizot, the French statesman and historian who, long before Lord Acton, articulated the liberal conviction that power corrupts, and Franz Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch, the German who founded the first credit unions. Mr Fawcett tears the blinkers off the view that liberal thought was essentially Anglo-Saxon—and that, correspondingly, France and Germany even today are not truly liberal.

The other distinction, following from this, is the book’s sheer scope, which ranges from monetary theory to social Darwinism and from the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the contrasts between anarchy and dissent. Mostly, these juxtapositions shed light on the adaptability of liberalism—of how, as Mr Fawcett writes, it has “no Marx-Engels Standard Edition”. Occasionally, though, the bedfellows jar; it is odd to find the British Conservative Michael Oakeshott in the same tent as the French Marxist Jean-Paul Sartre.

Adaptability is one reason for thinking that liberalism can withstand today’s challenges. Mr Fawcett argues that it was born not just out of a desire for liberty, but also to cope with the violent revolutions unleashed at the end of the 18th century. Unlike conservatives, who fear change, liberals welcome it because they believe that changing societies can be stable. Unlike socialists, who think the advent of Utopia needs to be administered, liberals aim to create the conditions in which each person can thrive in his or her own way unburdened by dictatorship.

However, as liberalism has spread, these impulses have become silted over. What remains is often a diminished combination of elections and a narrow, market-based version of freedom. Mr Fawcett provides a timely reminder that liberalism is much richer—more concerned with those who lose elections than those who win them, wary of concentrated power wherever it may be found, and committed to the intrinsic worth of every individual.

Liberalism is indeed under siege. Those who would fortify the walls would do well to study the foundations. Mr Fawcett’s book offers an admirable archaeology.



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4 réponses à “Libéralisme”

  • 4
    Letel:

    Du nouveau : le libéralisme économique sur France Culture.

  • 3
    Letel:

    « According to him, the political order that grants us valuable goods like security and wealth requires continuous management to survive. Political order is meanwhile necessary because of our natural, prepolitical state: An innate tendency to revert to conditions of rival kinship groups is both a cause and effect of political decay. « 

  • 2
    Letel:

    « Human beings are possessed of certain biologically rooted imperatives to favor kith and kin* over others—what he calls patrimonialism. Successful political order entails the establishment of institutions that check and redirect these impulses in productive and publicly beneficial ways. »
    Dans le dernier bouquin de Fukuyama.

    * kith and kin: parents et amis

  • 1
    Letel:

    Le libéralisme est de gauche















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