ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Twin Faces of Liberal International Toleration

International Toleration: A Theory by Pietro Maffettone, London: Routledge, 2020; pp xiv+176, `695.

In the past three decades, the career of liberalism—as a political ideology and as a normative theory—has oscillated between hegemonic trium­phalism on the one hand and erosion of legitimacy on the other. The ongoing war in Ukraine once again exposes the illegitimacy (almost insolvency) of the liberal democratic project to offer a credible political opposition to the imperial expansionism of Russia.

Against this historical backdrop animated by the disavowed legitimation crisis of liberalism, when one reads Pietro Maffettone’s International Toleration: A Theory, it can elicit two contrasting, almost pol­a­rising responses among its readers. Rea­ding from within the liberal theoretical tradition, this book can appear to be a profound, urgent yet sober inter­vention urging “comprehensive liberals” to ret­hink their position on how to engage with international political diversity constituted by a spectrum of non-liberal, non-democratic societies. Reading from a critical vantage point that interrogates the normative self-description of liberal tradition, this book can appear to be an evasive (at best) and vacuous (at worst) attempt to absolve liberalism of its ideo­logical complicity in justifying colonial conquest, imperial expansion, and rationalising their persistence despite formal decolonisation. Before we take a critical glance at the book, let us outline its key arguments from within the normative liberal tradition.

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Updated On : 29th Nov, 2022
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