(This program originally aired on June 12, 2019)
Tom's guest is Adam Gopnik, who has been a staff writer for the New Yorker Magazine for the past 33 years.
His new book is called A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. It is an homage to liberalism, in which he explores its roots in Montaigne and the Enlightenment, and traces its history through the present day.
Gopnik observes that liberalism was preceded by humanism and an affection for, and elevation of, a sense of community forged around shared choices. He calls it a fact-first philosophy with a feelings-first history.
While most people associate liberalism with a left-leaning world view, to Gopnik’s eye, it ends in the center, although it is not to be confused with centrism, and he distinguishes it not just from a conservative orientation on the right, but also from the more radical left. Liberalism favors reform over revolution. And it is premised in love and empathy. He writes that liberalism is “a belief that the sympathy that binds human society together can disconnect us from our clannish and suspicious past.”
Adam Gopnik joined us from NPR's New York bureau.