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The Prospect editorial—a new year and renewed purpose

Time to take stock in the battle between enlightenment and its opposite

By Tom Clark   January/February 2021

Basking in Trump, Brexit and various shades of nationalist nastiness in Europe, Vladimir Putin gave a provocative interview. “The liberal idea,” he told the Financial Times in 2019, had “outlived its purpose.” Hostility to multiculturalism had rendered it obsolete.

You might be a red-blooded socialist or a communitarian conservative, but if you’re reading Prospect, you’re unlikely to take instruction in political theory from the man in the Kremlin. This sort of magazine inescapably embodies the “very small l” liberal intellectual values—curiosity, scepticism and reason—that arrogant rulers kick against. And as a raging demagogue is evicted from the…

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