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Event Details

Samuel Moyn: Liberalism Against Itself

5 March 2024
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEDT
Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington
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Samuel Moyn

Samuel Moyn | Jessica Whyte

Fear of a nuclear apocalypse, despot leaders and a world at war – how did the sharpest minds of the Cold War leave such a legacy of fear? Samuel Moyn’s Liberalism Against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times takes aim at liberalism, portraying it as a failed creed marred by a paranoia of communism.  

Known for his challenging perspectives and boasting a cult following on the left, the Yale Professor explores the transformation of Cold War liberals who, in his view, traded the Enlightenment's moral core for a fixation on individual liberty. Join this compelling conversation, when UNSW political philosopher Jessica Whyte and Samuel Moyn dissect why today’s liberals provide only pessimism, instead of vision. 

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Australian Human Rights Institute, and supported by Adelaide Writers’ Week


Leighton Hall is located inside the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream.   






Wheelchair Access
The closest accessible drop off point to Leighton Hall is via Gate 11, Botany Street. More information on getting there can be found via our interactive accessibility map available here.

Assisted Listening
Leighton Hall has hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to utilise this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

Auslan & Captioning 
Auslan interpreting services and/or live captioning can be provided for selected talks upon request.

To book and discuss access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email


Leighton Hall (John Niland Scientia Building) is easily accessible via public transport and the closest light rail stops are UNSW High Street (L2 line) or UNSW Anzac Parade (L3 line). For more information please call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Free parking is also available in the Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) from 5.30pm. For access to free parking, event patrons must park in the UNSW Permit Holder bays, available on all levels. The Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) parking station is located here.

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. For more information head here



For all the other enquiries, please email or call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485.

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. For more information on all other relay calls visit here.

Samuel Moyn

Samuel Moyn

Samuel Moyn is Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and History at Yale University. His most recent book is Liberalism against Itself: Cold War Intellectuals and the Making of Our Times with Yale University Press, based on the Carlyle Lectures in the History of Political Thought at the University of Oxford in early 2022. Before this, he spent a decade writing some books about the history of international law and human rights, such as The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History and Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War.

Jessica Whyte

Jessica Whyte

Jessica Whyte is Scientia Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNSW Sydney, with a cross-appointment in the Faculty of Law. Her work integrates political philosophy, intellectual history, and political economy to analyse contemporary forms of sovereignty, human rights, humanitarianism, and militarism. Jessica’s work has been published in a range of fora including Contemporary Political Theory; Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development; Law and Critique; Political Theory; and South Atlantic Quarterly. She is the author of two monographs, Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, and The Morals of the Market: Human Rights and the Rise of Neoliberalism.

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