The Weekend Read
Which Freedom?

Adrian Wooldridge and John Micklethwait have written a compelling new book on rethinking the state. Its only weakness is its somewhat narrow understanding of freedom in terms of a kind of consumerist individualism.

Published on: May 24, 2014
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  • Boritz

    ‘The call is to devolve power away from the center and “toward the localities.” All of this is not only sensible. It is right.’

    As long as I still get my cheese and healthcare you are welcome to take on this task like a tug of war over a steak with a hungry lion.

  • Anthony

    “Voters continue to demand more services, and politicians of all persuasions have indulged them – with the left delivering hospitals and schools, the right building prisons, armies and police forces, and everybody creating regulation like confetti.”

    Saw Micklethwait and Wooldridge on Charlie Rose as they discussed both their book and ideas surrounding concept Forth Revolution. Above all, the idea subsidiarity (government, policy programs should be addressed at most local level capable) has been proffered elsewhere. Moreover listening to the two authors, I thought there are no magic bullets to complex problems. And yet, their points on both China and Indonesia (and others) as well as holistic “complex systems thinking” rate attention. To be sure, if there is to be a fourth revolution (using Micklethwait and Wooldridge’s descriptive term) effective analysis must entail complexity given interconnectedness of civil society.

  • Corlyss

    Listening to Prairie Home Companion for this week – they’re in DC at Wolf Trap. Intro referred to certain suspicious changes to the Bill of Rights, made with pen an ink and everything: Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion . . . unless the people really want religious freedom; or abridging freedom of speech . . . unless they are a corporate entity . . .

    Of course Keillor means it as satire . . . unless they could really achieve it . . . 🙂

  • Corlyss

    I love Micklethwait’s and Wooldridge’s analyses I’ve read elsewhere. I’ll have to get the book.

  • qet

    Transcendence happens sometimes but can’t be contrived.
    Count me for one who thinks metaphysics is given too short shift in
    Anglo-American philosophy nowadays, but statements like “act in concert
    with fellow citizens to build a meaningful common world” and
    “building a common project, something larger than ourselves” border
    on nonsense in this context. In the America of 2014, centrifugal
    social and political forces are far more powerful than centripetal ones, with
    each separating mass trying desperately to gain control of the centralized and
    centralizing political authority to impose its own transcendent project on the

    Some transcendent common political project may emerge (again? I question
    whether there ever was one here other than actualizing the very freedom that
    Berkowitz claims is too narrow-minded) one day, but for now what is needed most
    is encouragement of the “limited” freedom acclaimed by the
    authors. Pluralism and equality are logical contraries and encouragement
    and exhortations against the latter are what we need at the moment in order to
    restore a greater measure of the former. Then and only then can the sort
    of transcendent common project Berkowitz urges emerge.

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