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The Open Society and Its Enemies

808 pages, 2013



711 books
economics & politics

economics & politics

987 books


999 books

One of the most important books of the twentieth century, Karl Poppers The Open Society and Its Enemies, is an uncompromising defense of liberal democracy and a powerful attack on the intellectual origins of totalitarianism. Popper was born in 1902 to a Viennese family of Jewish origin. 

He taught in Austria until 1937 when he immigrated to New Zealand anticipating the Nazi annexation of Austria the following year, and he settled in England in 1949. Before the annexation, Popper had written mainly about the philosophy of science, but from 1938 until the end of the Second World War he focused his energies on political philosophy, seeking to diagnose the intellectual origins of German and Soviet totalitarianism. 

The Open Society and Its Enemies was the result. An immediate sensation when it was first published in two volumes in 1945, Popper's monumental achievement has attained legendary status on both the Left and Right and is credited with inspiring anticommunist dissidents during the Cold War.  

Understanding Open Society

In 'The Open Society and Its Enemies', Karl Popper explores the concept of an open society. He defines it as a society that is flexible, adaptable, and open to change. This is a society where individuals are free to voice their opinions and where government actions are open to scrutiny. Popper encourages us to dig deeper into this concept and see how it applies to our own societies.

Critique of Totalitarianism

Popper takes a critical look at totalitarian ideologies. He argues that these ideologies, such as Marxism and Fascism, are inherently flawed because they claim to have the ultimate truth. This, he says, leads to the suppression of individual freedoms and the creation of closed societies. It's a thought-provoking critique that encourages us to research more about the dangers of totalitarianism.

Historicism and its Flaws

Popper takes a hard look at historicism, the belief that history follows a predetermined path. He argues that this belief is not only wrong but also dangerous as it can lead to the justification of totalitarian regimes. This is a great opportunity to explore a different perspective on history and its impact on society.

The Role of Science

In the book, Popper emphasizes the importance of science in an open society. He believes that scientific knowledge, which is always open to revision and falsification, is a key component of a society that values freedom and progress. This is a great reminder for us to appreciate the role of science in our lives.

The Importance of Critical Thinking

One of the key takeaways from 'The Open Society and Its Enemies' is the importance of critical thinking. Popper encourages us to question everything, to not accept anything at face value, and to always seek the truth. This is a valuable lesson that can help us navigate our complex world with a more discerning eye.

Quotes 3

Popper's book, 'The Open Society and Its Enemies', had a profound influence on my understanding of the world. It helped me to see the flaws in totalitarian ideologies and the importance of critical thinking.

George SorosGeorge Soros - Investor, Philanthropist

'The Open Society and Its Enemies' is a work of profound intellectual power. It is a book that has changed the way we think about society and the role of the individual within it.

Bryan MageeBryan Magee - Philosopher, Broadcaster

Popper's 'The Open Society and Its Enemies' is a magnificent defense of democratic principles. It is a book that should be read by every lover of freedom.

Bertrand RussellBertrand Russell - Philosopher, Logician
George SorosBryan MageeBertrand Russell


authorAyaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

authorDavid Deutsch

David Deutsch


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