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Can Liberalism Be Saved?

Liberalism is being assailed from left and right, but it has not failed. As political philosopher Bryan Garsten writes in the new issue of the Journal of Democracy, “Liberal societies . . . are those that offer refuge from the very people they empower,” and with it, instill individuals with choice, mobility, and the possibility of escape. With individual choice comes the need for tolerance — but how much? With mobility and escape comes the danger of detachment and fragility. In the Journal’s newest symposium, five authors grapple with questions of liberalism’s lasting relevance and its challenges for the future.

The Liberalism of Refuge
Liberal societies are those which offer refuge from the very people they empower — through individual choice, mobility, and the possibility of exit. This is the form of liberty that most clearly elevates the liberal project.
Bryan Garsten

Liberalism as Fortress and Prison
The power of liberalism — though limited and never revered — enables it to serve as refuge while taming the demons of liberal society.
Nadia Urbinati

The Limits of Liberalism
The liberal emphasis on unhindered mobility comes with costs, particularly for those unable to leave.
William A. Galston

Liberal Tolerance for an Intolerant Age
What distinguishes liberal societies from all others is that they tolerate immoral behavior. It is this tolerance that protects us not just from our leaders but ourselves.
Jason Brennan

A Refuge from Liberalism?
The belief we can “escape” remains a part of the liberal imagination. In truth, it is realized in the form of detachment from any community, an exodus without refuge.
Patrick J. Deneen

A Reply to My Critics
A liberal society must reckon the demands of the common good, while offering what we most crave — something worth sacrificing for.
Bryan Garsten

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