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Vendor- De Dijn, Annelien

Freedom: An Unruly History

Freedom: An Unruly History

De Dijn, Annelien

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For centuries people in the West identified freedom with the ability to exercise control over the way in which they were governed. The equation of liberty with restraints on state power―what most people today associate with freedom―was a deliberate and dramatic rupture with long-established ways of thinking. So what triggered this fateful reversal? In a masterful and surprising reappraisal of more than two thousand years of Western thinking about freedom, Annelien de Dijn argues that this was not the natural outcome of such secular trends as the growth of religious tolerance or the creation of market societies. Rather, it was propelled by an antidemocratic backlash following the French and American Revolutions.

The notion that freedom is best preserved by shrinking the sphere of government was not invented by the revolutionaries who created our modern democracies―it was first conceived by their critics and opponents. De Dijn shows that far from following in the path of early American patriots, today’s critics of “big government” owe more to the counterrevolutionaries who tried to undo their work.