Open by Johan Norberg

Steven Pinker writes of Open:

“No person or society is smart enough or wise enough or noble enough to solve the wicked problems of life by themselves. With clarity and grace, Johan Norberg reminds us that openness to things and ideas from others is the only route to well-being.”

Norberg writes convincingly of our necessity to remain ‘open’ in order to maintain human progress, and forms a skilled and interesting argument that it is this openness that sets humans apart. It is an intrinsic facet of our make-up. He has deftly weaved our current global crisis amongst the pages, encouraging us to consider how those societies of the past could give us a little insight into the problems of our present.

Throughout history, societies have zig-zagged between open and closed, sharing ideas, ideologies, tools, religions, skills and materials and Open posits a compelling argument that without this sharing we would be living in a vastly different world today. It is the tale of history that open societies end up closed, then back open, and often closed again. Norberg considers why, when being open is what drives us forward, we often return to what Margaret Heffernan describes as ‘tribalism’.

The extent to which Norberg’s liberal ideologies shine through may strike some people as a little naïve, and grate on those who aren’t fans of free trade or open borders. However, for me, it felt like a refreshing blast of positivity, a belief that humanity are fundamentally the possessors of open hearts and open minds. We are living in a time when this feels more important than ever.

Review by Meg Narramore
Personal Read: 4*
Group Read: 3*

ISBN-13 : 978-1786497161 Atlantic Books; Main Edition (3 Sept. 2020) Hardback