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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Jul 9, 2019

Not since the early twentieth century has liberalism, and liberals, come under such relentless attack, from both right and left. Some say that the crisis of democracy in our era has produced a crisis of faith in liberal institutions and, even worse, in liberal thought. Adam Gopnik, staff writer at The New Yorker, offered us a thorough examination of liberalism—its history and place in the modern day—with A Thousand Small Sanities, a manifesto rooted in the lives of people who invented and extended the liberal tradition. Taking us from Montaigne to Mill, and from Middlemarch to the civil rights movement, Gopnik argued that liberalism is not a form of centrism, nor simply another word for free markets, nor merely a term denoting a set of rights. He characterized liberalism as something far more ambitious: the search for radical change by humane measures. Join Gopnik for an examination of liberalism as one of the great moral adventures in human history—and explore why, in an age of autocracy, our lives may depend on its continuation.

Adam Gopnik is a staff writer at The New Yorker; he has written for the magazine since 1986. Gopnik has three National Magazine awards, for essays and for criticism, and also a George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. Gopnik is the author of numerous books, including Paris to the Moon and At The Stranger’s Gate.

Recorded live in the Great Hall at Town Hall Seattle on June 18, 2019.