03/29/2019 Tocqueville Lecture - Helena Rosenblatt: ROUNDTABLE ON The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century
From ssrc Social Science Research Commons on March 29th, 2019
The Lost History of Liberalism challenges our most basic assumptions about a political creed that has become a rallying cry—and a term of derision—in today’s increasingly divided public square. Taking readers from ancient Rome to today, Helena Rosenblatt traces the evolution of the words “liberal” and “liberalism,” revealing the heated debates that have taken place over their meaning. She debunks the popular myth of liberalism as a uniquely Anglo-American tradition centered on individual rights, showing that it was the French Revolution that gave birth to liberalism and Germans who transformed it. Only in the mid-twentieth century did the concept become widely known in the United States—and then, as now, its meaning was hotly debated. It was only during the Cold War and America’s growing world hegemony that liberalism was refashioned into an American ideology focused so strongly on individual freedoms.