Liberalism and the Politics of Compulsion
STEARS a1 a
a1 University College, Oxford.
This review presents a critical account of the most powerful critique of liberal political thought to have emerged in recent years: a critique it calls the ‘politics of compulsion’. Drawing on the work of a wide range of critics of contemporary liberalism, this article contends that although those who advance this critique are divided in many ways they are nonetheless held together by a series of powerful descriptive and normative challenges to liberal political philosophy as it has developed since the publication of John Rawls's Political
Liberalism. The article further demonstrates that most of these challenges centre on the place of coercive power in modern political life and suggests that, although these challenges should not undermine liberals' commitment to their central normative claims, they do nonetheless provide an essential rejoinder to some of liberalism's more complacent assumptions.
a I would like to thank Michael Freeden, Sudhir Hazareesingh, Mathew Humphrey, David Miller, Karma Nabulsi, Lizzy Pellicano, Andrew Sabl and the Editors and anonymous referees of the Journal for extremely helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.