Taking Liberty Back

A refreshing alternative to mainstream opinion for both political and progressive thinkers to ponder, discuss and use as a framework for action

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- It's election day! By the end of the day, we will know whether the Republicans have recaptured the majority in the US Senate. How will those who are elected affect your life on issues such as climate change, government, taxes, health care, contraception debates, gun control rights and marriage equality, to name a few? In his new book, Beyond Liberty Alone: A Progressive Vision of Freedom and Capitalism in America (Other Ideas Press, November 4, 2014), Howard I. Schwartz challenges us to fundamentally rethink how the reigning conception of liberty has set us off course as a country, damaged our planet and our moral selves. Arguing that we have been misled over the last forty years by a view that equates liberty with individual rights and property, Schwartz insists we need a new understanding of this critical American concept to guide our collective future together. Urging us to take back the concept of liberty that has been taken hostage by the Right, Schwartz offers a view of liberty that is progressive, comprehensive and noteworthy.

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Schwartz argues the Right's notion of liberty fuels a political agenda that has been destructive in many ways. "Liberty is the central concept by which the political Right understands itself and its commitments. Liberty to the Right means protection of 'my' rights and 'my' property. It also means small government, minimal taxes, and free markets. This understanding of liberty encourages inequality and racism, damage to the environment, and problematic business practices," says Schwartz. He argues that this limited vision of liberty rests on problematic assumptions about property, the nature of the state and its land, and also our responsibilities as human beings and citizens.  Drawing from philosophy, history and religion, Schwartz shows how an alternative understanding of liberty is compelling, authentic and morally better for ourselves and the planet.

At the heart of this alternative understanding of liberty is the knowledge that an individual has natural responsibilities, as much as natural rights, and has a debt to the past—to those on whose shoulders we stand and from whom we benefited. Because my rights imply your limitation, liberty in society by definition always involves sacrifice and responsibility, not just protection of our rights and property. To develop this understanding, Schwartz rethinks the key conceptual elements that are at the heart of the Right's idea of liberty including our understanding of property, the role of the state, the relationship of the state to its land, and the role of regulations on markets.

"The Left has relinquished the concept of liberty to the Right," says Schwartz. "As a result, those on the Right argue that you can't embrace liberty and have progressive commitments." Beyond Liberty Alone shows this is not the case. It opens the way for progressives to combine their obligations to justice, equality, compassion and the planet with their self-understanding as Americans who embrace liberty. "The goal is to reinvigorate an alternative conception of liberty, with roots in the early modern rights thinking, in Western religious traditions, and in the founding of America," says Schwartz. This alternative vision shows that we can combine our sense of justice and equality, and our care of the planet, with our revived conception of liberty and not be forced to choose one or the other, despite what the Right claims.

About Howard I. Schwartz, PhD

Howard I. Schwartz, holds a PhD from Brown University, and has extensive experience as both a professor of religious studies and as a business executive. His thought provoking writing is inspired by his unusual life journey from seminary to Silicon Valley. Trained originally as a rabbi, with a PhD from Brown University, he spent ten years as a professor of religious studies before moving to the for-profit sector as an executive in the high tech software industry. Schwartz (formerly Eilberg-Schwartz) is known for his thought provoking interdisciplinary works that question standard scholarly conventions.

Inspired by both his religious studies and business background, Schwartz has turned his interdisciplinary attention to one of the most evocative and contentious political concepts of our day—the idea of liberty.  In his earlier book, Liberty in America's Founding Moment, Schwartz takes on the view that we can get back to an earlier 'pure view' of liberty in the American founding, and in his latest book, Beyond Liberty Alone, Schwartz draws on insights from history, philosophy and religion to question the Right's destructive and now popular understanding of liberty.Howard currently lives with his wife in the San Francisco Bay area where he writes and consults to companies transforming their corporate cultures to embrace change and social good. For more information visit: www.howardischwartz.com and connect with him on Twitter @freedomandcap.

Media Contact: Maya Jiménez, Target Marketing Digital, 917-514-0179, maya@targetmktng.com

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SOURCE Howard I. Schwartz, PhD



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