From Liberal Democracy to the Cosmopolitan Canopy

Jon Van Til


Liberalism is that ideology, that worldview, which values, in an ever-evolving set of intelligently intermingled thoughts:  democracy, freedom (liberty), equality (justice), fraternity (solidarity), the pursuit of happiness, pluralism (diversity), and human rights--and explores the ever-open ever-possible futures of their rediscovery and advance. The study of ways in which social movements relate to Third sector/nonprofit or voluntary organizations can be structured, if we choose, as a liberal endeavor.  That is the message I receive from Antonin Wagner’s (2012) telling of the emergence of a field that focuses its study and developmental energies on place of intermediate associational life in modern society, from Adalbert Evers’ efforts to sustain the welfare state in an era of untrammeled capitalism (2013), and from Roger Lohmann’s (1992) comprehensive vision of a social commons capable of assuring the values of liberal society.

This paper sets the theory of liberal democracy in a contemporary cosmopolitan context, drawing on case material from Hungary, Northern Ireland,  and the United States.



Liberal democracy; social pluralism; civil society; cosmopolitan canopy

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