Ben Wellings reviews 'Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat' by Jan Zielonka

Ben Wellings reviews 'Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat' by Jan Zielonka

Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat

by Jan Zielonka

Oxford University Press, $30.95 hb, 176 pp, 9780198806561

Jan Zielonka has provided us with an engaging and stimulating diagnosis of the pathologies of the European crisis of liberalism. The prognosis is not great, but there is hope.

This short book takes the form of an intergenerational letter to Zielonka’s former mentor, the émigré German liberal intellectual Ralf Dahrendorf. Dahrendorf wrote a treatise on the European revolutions of 1989, which was in turn based on Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). This intergenerational aspect of the book means that there are several ghosts at the banquet: notably the French Revolution of 1789 and the liberal-national revolutions of 1989. Yet the 1930s are lurking between the lines, too: there is more than a ‘whiff of Weimar’ about this analysis of the ‘counter-revolution’ against the post-Cold War order.

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Published in October 2018, no. 405
Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings

Ben Wellings is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Monash University. He researches the relationship between nationalism and European integration, specifically Brexit and English nationalism and the politics of the Anglosphere. He is author of English Nationalism and Euroscepticism: Losing the peace (Peter Lang, 2012). For more information please visit:

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