This article aims to situate Isaiah Berlin’s influential conceptualization of the liberal idea of liberty in negative terms in the history of political ideologies, thus contributing to the understanding of the development of liberalism as an ideological tradition. More specifically, the article contributes to the understanding of two central themes in the ideological history of negative liberty. First, it shows that negative liberty has repeatedly served as an ideological weapon against radical democratic politics, while also pointing to an important shift in the manner of its employment: between the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries, we argue, negative liberty had turned from a deflationary device associated with excessive democracy into a moderate ideal endangered by totalitarian democracy. The second theme that we highlight and account for is the late development of the association of the liberal conception of liberty with the idea of negativity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Yiftah Elazar would like to acknowledge the support of ISF (Israel Science Foundation) grant 1970/16.
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.