Catalogue


Liberalism's crooked circle : letters to Adam Michnik /
by Ira Katznelson.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1996.
description
xx, 192 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0691034389 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1996.
isbn
0691034389 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
1825557
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
" Liberalism's Crooked Circle is at once an intensely private and a brilliantly objective analysis of the questions that agonize our times.... I know of no book closer to the core of our time, none that has moved and instructed me so deeply."-- Robert Heilbroner
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1996-04-15:
Katznelson (political science and history, Columbia Univ.; City Trenches, 1981) here addresses the contemporary crisis of left-wing politics by redefining and "revaluing" the liberal tradition. Rather than presenting a conventional social-scientific analysis, his intervention takes the form of two lengthy epistles to Polish-Jewish dissident Adam Michnik. Katznelson's prose style is as elegant as his political stance is sophisticated. This is a subtle, searching examination of liberalism's complicated relationship to concerns about class inequality and social difference. The book should appeal to readers interested in "the pressing task of discovering an ethical and political imagination sufficiently resourceful to grapple with current challenges and responsibilities." Unrepentant leftists, as well as advocates of an undiluted capitalism, will find much to disagree with in this short, pithy volume. But they should also find Katznelson's savoir faire intellectually bracing. Recommended for all academic libraries.‘Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1996-11-01:
Written as two open letters to dissident Adam Michnik in communist Poland, this book scrutinizes liberalism's contributions to a self-limiting socialism, which encompasses the split between public and private spheres, as well as between property and sovereignty. Like Bruce Ackerman's The Future of Liberal Revolution (1992), the book discusses liberalism's biddability to societies freed from Communist rule; however, unlike Ackerman's constitution-building approach, Katznelson analyzes liberalism's ethical and ethnic implications. He propounds an interpretation of John Locke's theory of property compatible with the progressive liberalism of John Stuart Mill and L.T. Hobhouse, among others, and challenges the hyperindividualist interpretation popularized by utilitarian liberals. Engaging Will Kymlicka's theory of multiculturalism, Katznelson proposes a pluralist liberalism which builds on Isaiah Berlin's plural liberalism and Susan Mendus's analogy of neighborliness. As a way of protecting minority cultures, Katznelson stresses the importance of recognizing distinct dimensions of cultural difference rather than legal codes that publicly flatten cultural distinctions. Essential for students of multiculturalism and pluralism; recommended for political scientists, philosophers, and sociologists. R. J. Vichot Florida International University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Katznelson's prose style is as elegant as his political stance is sophisticated. This is a subtle, searching examination of liberalism's complicated relationship to concerns about class inequality and social difference."-- Library Journal
" Liberalism's Crooked Circle is an intellectually rich engagement with two large issues in contemporary liberalism.... Historically grounded and sociologically realistic--it is a great success."-- The Boston Review of Books
"Thoughtful and eminently readable contribution to debates about the future of liberalism.... Katznelson's argument is provocative."-- Political Science Quarterly
Winner of the 1997 Michael Harrington Award, Caucus for a New Political Science section of the American Political Science Association Winner of the 1996 Lionel Trilling Award, Columbia University
"[An] unusual and inventive work."-- Foreign Affairs
"[A] thoughtful and eminently readable contribution to debates about the future of liberalism.... [Katznelson] argues for a synthesis of the most progressive elements of political liberalism with the strengths of the socialist critique of capitalism."-- William E. Scheuerman, Political Science Quarterly
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, April 1996
Choice, November 1996
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
"Liberalism's Crooked Circle is at once an intensely private and a brilliantly objective analysis of the questions that agonize our times.... I know of no book closer to the core of our time, none that has moved and instructed me so deeply."--Robert Heilbroner
Unpaid Annotation
In Ira Katznelson's view, Americans are squandering a tremendous ethical and political opportunity to redefine and reorient the liberal tradition. In an opening essay and two remarkable letters addressed to Adam Michnik, who is arguably East Europe's emblematic democratic intellectual, Katznelson seeks to recover this possibility. By examining issues that once occupied Michnik's fellow dissidents in the Warsaw group known as the Crooked Circle, Katznelson brings a fresh realism to old ideals and posits a liberalism that "stares hard" at cruelty, suffering, coercion, and tyrannical abuses of state power. Like the members of Michnik's club, he recognizes that the circumference of liberalism's circle never runs smooth and that tolerance requires extremely difficult judgments. Katznelson's first letter explores how the virtues of socialism, including its moral stand on social justice, can be related to liberalism while overcoming debilitating aspects of the socialist inheritance. The second asks whether liberalism can recognize, appreciate, and manage human difference. Situated in the lineage of efforts by Richard Hofstadter, C. Wright Mills, and Lionel Trilling to "thicken" liberalism, these letters also draw on personal experience in the radical politics of the 1960s and in the dissident culture of East and Central Europe in the years immediately preceding communism's demise.
Main Description
This book is a profoundly moving and analytically incisive attempt to shift the terms of discussion in American politics. It speaks to the intellectual and political weaknesses within the liberal tradition that have put the United States at the mercy of libertarian, authoritarian populist, nakedly racist, and traditionalist elitist versions of the right-wing; and it seeks to identify resources that can move the left away from the stunned intellectual incoherence with which it has met the death of Bolshevism. In Ira Katznelson's view, Americans are squandering a tremendous ethical and political opportunity to redefine and reorient the liberal tradition. In an opening essay and two remarkable letters addressed to Adam Michnik, who is arguably East Europe's emblematic democratic intellectual, Katznelson seeks to recover this possibility. By examining issues that once occupied Michnik's fellow dissidents in the Warsaw group known as the Crooked Circle, Katznelson brings a fresh realism to old ideals and posits a liberalism that "stares hard" at cruelty, suffering, coercion, and tyrannical abuses of state power. Like the members of Michnik's club, he recognizes that the circumference of liberalism's circle never runs smooth and that tolerance requires extremely difficult judgments. Katznelson's first letter explores how the virtues of socialism, including its moral stand on social justice, can be related to liberalism while overcoming debilitating aspects of the socialist inheritance. The second asks whether liberalism can recognize, appreciate, and manage human difference. Situated in the lineage of efforts by Richard Hofstadter, C. Wright Mills, and Lionel Trilling to "thicken" liberalism, these letters also draw on personal experience in the radical politics of the 1960s and in the dissident culture of East and Central Europe in the years immediately preceding communism's demise. Liberalism's Crooked Circle could help foster a substantive debate in the American elections of 1996 and determine the contents of that desperately needed discussion.
Main Description
This book is a profoundly moving and analytically incisive attempt to shift the terms of discussion in American politics. It speaks to the intellectual and political weaknesses within the liberal tradition that have put the United States at the mercy of libertarian, authoritarian populist, nakedly racist, and traditionalist elitist versions of the right-wing; and it seeks to identify resources that can move the left away from the stunned intellectual incoherence with which it has met the death of Bolshevism. In Ira Katznelson's view, Americans are squandering a tremendous ethical and political opportunity to redefine and reorient the liberal tradition. In an opening essay and two remarkable letters addressed to Adam Michnik, who is arguably East Europe's emblematic democratic intellectual, Katznelson seeks to recover this possibility. By examining issues that once occupied Michnik's fellow dissidents in the Warsaw group known as the Crooked Circle, Katznelson brings a fresh realism to old ideals and posits a liberalism that "stares hard" at cruelty, suffering, coercion, and tyrannical abuses of state power. Like the members of Michnik's club, he recognizes that the circumference of liberalism's circle never runs smooth and that tolerance requires extremely difficult judgments. Katznelson's first letter explores how the virtues of socialism, including its moral stand on social justice, can be related to liberalism while overcoming debilitating aspects of the socialist inheritance. The second asks whether liberalism can recognize, appreciate, and manage human difference. Situated in the lineage of efforts by Richard Hofstadter, C. Wright Mills, and Lionel Trilling to "thicken" liberalism, these letters also draw on personal experience in the radical politics of the 1960s and in the dissident culture of East and Central Europe in the years immediately preceding communism's demise.Liberalism's Crooked Circlecould help foster a substantive debate in the American elections of 1996 and determine the contents of that desperately needed discussion.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Liberalism's Crooked Circlep. 2
Introduction the Club of the Crooked Circlep. 3
La Lutte Continuep. 29
the Storehouse of Power and Unreasonp. 99
Indexp. 187
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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