Liberalism, Inebriated 

Does liberalism have poems? Are there liberal poets? John Stuart Mill, who loved Shelley and who celebrated “human feeling,” thought so: “Although a philosopher cannot make himself, in the peculiar sense in which we now use the term, a poet, unless at least he have that peculiarity of nature which would probably have made poetry his earliest pursuit; a poet may always, by culture, make himself a philosopher.” But a philosopher of liberalism?  Charles Baudelaire, a contemporary of Mill, died in 1867. In 1869, a collection of his prose-poems — a form that he helped to invent — was published under the title Le Spleen de Paris, a phrase that Baudelaire had himself used for a selection of these texts. The title has been translated as Paris Blues. (The original title was much better.) Baudelaire believed that life is a struggle between spleen and ideal, and in his work he

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