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How To Be A Liberal


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About the Author

Ian Dunt is editor of politics.co.uk. He specialises in issues around immigration, civil liberties and social justice and appears as a pundit on BBC TV, Sky News and Al-Jazeera. He is a regular contributor to two podcasts: Remainiacs and The Bunker.

His first book, Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now? (Canbury, 2016), revealed the impact of Britain leaving the EU in unflinching detail.

How To Be A Liberal (Canbury, 2020) traces the development of the ideas that underpin western democracy. It issues a rallying cry for freedom and the rights of the individual.


'A tour de force; a mighty trumpet blast for the forces of liberalism and enlightenment in the face of a global tide of ignorance and populism.'


'This is a history of ideas as it should be written - brilliant, vivid story-telling about the people who shaped liberalism, the challenges it has faced over the centuries, its commitment to the truth and why it's now more important than ever to defend it.'


'Dunt's gift for making complicated issues comprehensible is second to none. Courageous.'


'How To Be A Liberal is required reading for today's political debates.'


'Clear-eyed and hard-headed. His defence of liberalism is political writing at its most urgent and engaging.'


'A phenomenal history from a truly big mind.'


'In an age of rampant nationalism and anti-intellectualism, this book urges us to celebrate complexity and diversity.

Dunt, editor of the website politics.co.uk, counterposes liberalism and nationalism, the latter of which, he writes, is based on a sixfold lie. Among its elements are the thought that we can have only one identity at a time, which makes us "part of the mass: an undifferentiated component of the whole," and the contention that any difference from that mass is bad. We see the sixth component, "there is no such thing as truth," enacted with every Trump tweet. As Orwell knew, when politicians can get away with lies, lie they will; if the concepts of truth and falsehood disappear, then they will do as they please. Having established this sixfold premise, Dunt examines the evolution of the idea of liberalism, at least some of which he traces back to Descartes and his obsession with the "gap between dream and reality, the thin line between being awake and...the crazed world of dreaming"-i.e., the foundational stuff of truth and lies. While Descartes is seldom pressed into political work, Dunt makes a good case for doing so. Other figures in the battle against authoritarianism include some of the usual suspects, such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill-who was careful to give credit to his partner, Harriet Taylor, a woman who even so "was erased" from the historical record. The paucity of intellectualism on the far right, an ideology "pumped into the heart and pursued with the fist," is as evident now as it was a century ago. In a book that makes a good companion to Adam Gopnik's A Thousand Small Sanities, Dunt takes down a few politically correct absurdities, but most of his fire is aimed squarely at Trump, Theresa May, Marine Le Pen, and other enemies of freedom.

When in the course of human events it falls on us to resist, this makes a welcome guidebook.'

- KIRKUS, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/ian-dunt/how-to-be-a-liberal/

'A journalist who has come to prominence on Twitter as a staunch critic of Brexit, Dunt has delved into heavy academic theory and interpreted it in an accessible manner for the ordinary reader. He describes liberalism as "an enormous, boisterous, confounding bloody thing," and writes passionately in its favour, as a counterweight to ignorance and populism. This book is required reading for anyone interested in politics and philosophy.'


'All of Ian Dunt's How to be a Liberal is essential reading, but the chapter on Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill is blistering, eye-opening stuff.'

- Shakespeare & Company bookstore, https://twitter.com/Shakespeare_Co/status/1332266783303151617

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