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Kenan Malik - THE ENLIGHTENMENT – AND WHY IT STILL MATTERS | Pandaemonium May 2013
The contemporary debate about the EU pits a liberal Europeanism, through which is expressed, all too often, contempt for the electorate and an ambiguous view of the democratic process, against rightwing Euroscepticism, in which hostility to the European project is fuelled by nationalism and xenophobia. Were Spinoza or Diderot, or another thinker from the Radical Enlightenment tradition, present today, he would probably see himself as a democratic Europhile, as someone who wants to break down national barriers but to do it through popular support and the extension of democratic institutions. A contemporary debate between what are in effect aristocratic cosmopolitans, democratic cosmopolitans and xenophobic anti-cosmopolitans, a debate that in many ways echoes the eighteenth century conflict between the moderate Enlightenment, the Radical Enlightenment and the counter-Enlightenment, reveals the continuing relevance of not simply of the Enlightenment but also of the debates within it. The Enlightenment matters because, as both Pagden and Israel observe, it helped shape much of the political and moral foundations of the modern world. It matters also because the political and moral issues over which eighteenth century thinkers fought remain so often the political and moral issues over which we continue to tussle.
books  kindle  bookshelf  reviews  Enlightenment  Radical_Enlightenment  cosmopolitanism  elites  aristocracy  enlightened_absolutism  EU  democracy  populism  Hobbes  Spinoza  EF-add 
december 2013 by dunnettreader

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