“Who were open society’s old enemies, when the idea first took shape in 1945 in Karl Popper’s work? Who are the new enemies of open society, the ones we confront today? And then, the most difficult question of all: Has the open society ideal outlived its usefulness?” - From the Introduction
The key values of the Open Society – freedom, justice, tolerance, democracy and respect for knowledge – are increasingly under threat in today’s world. As an effort to uphold those values, this volume brings together some of the key political, social and economic thinkers of our time to re-examine the Open Society closely in terms of its history, its achievements and failures, and its future prospects. Based on the lecture series Rethinking Open Society, which took place between 2017 and 2018 at the Central European University, the volume is deeply embedded in the history and purpose of CEU, its Open Society mission, and its belief in educating sceptical but passionate citizens.
“Closed societies are tempting because open societies are difficult to live in and their ideals are hard to practice. An open society is very demanding. It asks us to respect the dignity of others, especially of those with whom we may disagree and to make choices for ourselves and our community. It offers us no readily applicable solutions, no straightforward recipe for a better world, but demands that we make reasoned choices, often in perplexing, uncertain, and frightening times.” - From the Introduction
CONTRIBUTORS: Anne Applebaum • Erica Benner• Dorothee Bohle • Thomas Christiano • Tim Crane • Niall Ferguson • Timothy Garton Ash • Béla Greskovits • Michael Ignatieff • Robert D. Kaplan • János Kis • Ivan Krastev • Mark Lilla • Margaret MacMillan • Jan-Werner Müller • Alina Mungiu-Pippidi • Stefan Roch • Pierre Rosanvallon • Jacques Rupnik • András Sajó • Daniela Schwarzer • Sir Roger Scruton • Stephen M. Walt
“By an accident of history, after 1989 the cart of state building had to be put before the horse of citizen building. There was an assumption amongst those who were optimistic—and I think it is an optimism that Popper, Berlin, and others shared—that once oppression and tyranny are removed, people naturally gravitate towards liberal citizenship; that we are naturally liberal. This is not true. Liberals are made; they are not born. Creating liberal citizens requires dampening some very natural impulses in the human soul, the concern for one’s self, for one’s family, and for one’s ethnic group. You must dampen those demands to build a different kind of attachment.” - Mark Lilla
“Conservatism is not against openness and change; it is concerned with the conditions that must be kept in place if those things are to be possible. The danger in liberal individualism is that it sees all constraint as unjustified, until proven to be necessary. It shifts the onus of proof constantly in its own favor, while jeopardizing the trust on which its own policies ultimately depend.” - Roger Scruton
“Education in the open society corresponds to the searchlight theory of the mind. The mind should be treated as an active problem-solving device, where learning occurs when we search for solutions to problems and for error in our solutions.” - Stefan Roch
“What matters about populism is anti-pluralism—the fact that populists exclude others morally and, if possible, politically, both at the level of party politics and, less obviously, at the level of the people themselves, where some citizens are said not to be part of ‘the real people’ at all… If liberals are serious of pluralism, they have to accept the legitimacy of those holding positions—and then fight the latter with everything they got by way of arguments, moral claims, empirical evidence, etc." - Jan-Werner Müller