This study takes up where the previous volume in this series, on open societies in the ancient and medieval periods, left off. Setting out from that point, it analyzes the difficult, often dramatic and highly conflicted, relationship between theoreticians of the open society and those who have actually pursued Utopian ideals and various other chimeras. The thread uniting the two studies passes through the political institutions of the Roman Republic and English parliamentarianism, the bulwarks of truly free societies (however imperfect, and thus subject to improvement, they may be). it is certainly no accident that all the great figures in this field, such as Vico, Montesquieu, Hume and the like, refer to these two models: the departure points for modern liberalism.Rocco Pezzimenti charts the difficult progress towards the achievement of rights, and reviewing modern political thought and the approach of contemporary analysis, offers a critique of a number of platitudes and demonstrates how even in the most recent centuries the complete negation of the open society has come about, often due to thinkers who have long been considered amongst the most enlightened.This has happened not only explicitly, due to those readily identified as the enemies of freedom, but also surreptitiously, occasioned by various Utopian visionaries. The analysis of those elements called the paradoxes of modernity has, under the cover of apparently innovative ideas, exalted methods and principles which have nothing to do with liberty and its history.The purpose of these pages is to provide an historical profile of the problem and alert each of us as to how delicate the balances of the open society are; societies which must be defended with the greatest possible lucidity and determination, a defence on a par with that of freedom itself.
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