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Classical Liberal Reading Group

Timbro 5th Reading Group on Classical Liberal Literature will take place December 2019 – January 2020.

Our Reading Group aims to strengthen interest in and understanding of classical liberal literature. The exercise, which has taken place on an annual basis since 2015, is an appreciated part of our educational program. The 5th Reading Group on Classical Liberal Literature will take place December 2019 – January 2020. Registration is now open.

The Old Regime and the French Revolution

After reading Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France in 2018, we shall now read Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the French Revolution, which, contrary to Burke, argues that something like the Revolution was inevitable or necessary. Tocqueville offers a broader sociological understanding of the Old Regime in France, leading up to 1789.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville had investigated how American society, based on a classical liberal constitution and British heritage, worked and might work in the future. He explores how different currents, both liberal and democratic, would likely transform the former autocratic and pre-revolutionary societies in Europe. But could France transition to the sort of decentralization and local independence that existed in America? Tocqueville was inspired by Burke to understand the background of the French Revolution. He brings a broad knowledge of French society and extensive archival research.

His book stands out as one of the primary interpretations of the French Revolution, and of revolutionary movements in general. Tocqueville suggests that the Old Regime was a desiccated prairie awaiting a spark to catch fire, in the manner of Timur Kuran’s theory of public vs. private preferences. We will read Alexis the Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the French Revolution in this edition. This is an excerpt from the book description:

“The Old Regime and the Revolution is Alexis de Tocqueville’s great meditation on the origins and meanings of the French Revolution. One of the most profound and influential studies of this pivotal event, it remains a relevant and stimulating discussion of the problem of preserving individual and political freedom in the modern world.”

Schedule 2019/2020

  • 1st meeting: December 11, 5.30 – 7 PM
  • 2nd meeting: December 18, 5.30 – 7 PM
  • 3rd meeting: January 7, 5.30 – 7 PM

All the seminars are held at Timbro, Kungsgatan 60, 2nd floor, in Stockholm.

Copies of the book will be available at Timbro, Kungsgatan 60. Contact Björn Hasselgren to make sure that a copy of the book is available for pickup, or sent by mail.


Contact Björn Hasselgren if you have any questions about the Reading Group, bjorn.hasselgren@timbro.se, +46-70-7623316. If you are interested in participating, write an email to Björn and describe your background and tell him why you would like to take part of the exercise. Apply by November 25 2019.

Professor Daniel Klein, who will lead the Reading Group, is also available by email dklein@gmu.ed