Liberalism: A Very Short Introduction

Michael Freeden

My review 2019-09-25

A mixed bag. There is too much discussion on how to analyze liberalism. The notions of layers of liberalism (a chronological approach?) would have been more useful if the layers had been given names rather than just numbers (one repeats to oneself "layer 4 liberalism, what was that now again...") and mixing this with "conceptual morphology" does not make it easy for the reader. All in all, there is too much discussion around liberal thinking, and too little describing it.

That said, there are interesting observations in this book, so it was worth reading. My appreciation of Hobhouse and Hobson was affected positively. The emphasis on the complexity of liberalism was also a positive aspect, since there is too much certainty today (on all sides) on what it is supposed to mean. The analysis of the limitations and assumptions of the so-called philosophical liberalism of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin was also interesting.