"I was saying just now, before you came in, prince, that there has been nothing national up to now, about our liberalism, and nothing the liberals do, or have done, is in the least degree national.
At all events, no other has ever said or written a word about it; and in this fact is expressed the whole essence of Russian liberalism of the sort which I am now considering.
"In the first place, what is liberalism, speaking generally, but an attack (whether mistaken or reasonable, is quite another question) upon the existing order of things?
In science, development, thought, invention, ideals, aims, liberalism
, judgment, experience and everything, everything, everything, we are still in the preparatory class at school.
Buyers of the Middlemarch newspapers found themselves in an anomalous position: during the agitation on the Catholic Question many had given up the "Pioneer"--which had a motto from Charles James Fox and was in the van of progress-- because it had taken Peel's side about the Papists, and had thus blotted its Liberalism
with a toleration of Jesuitry and Baal; but they were ill-satisfied with the "Trumpet," which--since its blasts against Rome, and in the general flaccidity of the public mind (nobody knowing who would support whom)--had become feeble in its blowing.
After the Spanish campaign, the administration seemed to enter upon an era of tranquillity in which some good might be accomplished; and three months before the opening of our story a new reign had begun without any apparent opposition; for the liberalism
of the Left had welcomed Charles X.
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999); Rawls, Political Liberalism
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1996); Alan Ryan, The Making of Modern Liberalism
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012); John Gray, Liberalisms
: Essays in Political Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1989); and Jeremy Waldron, "Theoretical Foundations of Liberalism
," Philosophical Quarterly 37', 147 (1987): 127-50.
Her careful social dissection of Cologne's Jewish-German relations, which highlights the importance of local context, invites more precise comparisons of German liberalisms
, and I hope it will provoke future urban studies of relatively neglected Jewish centers, such as Breslau, Frankfurt a.d.O., and Leipzig.
It is revealing that the chapter closest in tone to the assurance of earlier liberalisms
is Frazer's piece, "Feminism and liberalism
," which puts liberalism
firmly in its place as something that had its uses for women's liberation in the past but is now passe.
This argument is important not only because it expresses a different view of human nature (or, rather, of the possibility of human nature) but also because it is the basis of John Gray's critique of a variety of liberalisms
, all of which he finds guilty of the error of seeking foundations in universal claims about human nature and human values.
It may be argued that some of these thinkers were not liberals in a purist sense of the word, but in Merquior's more generous interpretation (his chapter on conservative liberalisms
embraces the |semi-liberalism' of the German theorists of the Rechtsstaat, for example), they undoubtedly were.
The Making of Modern Liberalism
. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.