Monday, November 18, 2013

Amsterdam: The World's Most Liberal City

With the election of Bill de Blasio as its Mayor, New York seems to want to recapture its Liberal roots. For some that may mean simply thinking about some of the last Democratic Mayors.

In fact those Liberal roots go much, much deeper. They go all the way back to the Dutch founding and Dutch influence on New York. All of which has its antecedents in the birth of Amsterdam itself, and the way in which the evolution of that city, particularly in the seventeenth century, would come to define the very ideas of classical Liberalism.

That idea of Liberalism is deeply entwined with the city of Amsterdam. Not just its permissive culture, about which we are familiar. But as a city that defines the most fundamental ideas of individual freedom.

Russell Shorto has looked as this from many angles. From the New York perspective, in his wonderful book, The Island at the Center of the World, and from a philosophical perspective in Descartes Bones. Now he goes into the belly of the beast to give us Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

My conversation with Russell Shorto:

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