This introductory chapter tackles the difficult question of liberty as it was developed in the Western world since the second half of the twentieth century and beyond. Clearly related, in the first instance, to the aftermath of the systematic persecution and massacre of the Jews and the dictatorial regimes that succeeded in coming to power in some of the most civilized and refined cultures of the Western world, a literature has been produced on the liberty that was lost—and only arduously (and not always fully) regained—that is daunting both in its quantity and quality. Alongside this brief discussion of the term “liberty” and all it implies, the chapter turns to another issue which is often brought up alongside debates about liberty—republicanism. This chapter explores some theses on republicanism to form a context based on the historical roots of the liberty discourse.
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