A collection of five essays from the 2020 Hubert Butler Essay Prize that examine contemporary society, featuring a foreword from Irish President Michael D. Higgins.
Bringing together the winning and shortlisted essays from the 2020 Hubert Butler Essay Prize, Self and Society presents five fresh perspectives on the tension between individual freedom and communal solidarity, asking what we owe our communities and why it matters. With a foreword by Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, the book examines themes that are more pressing than ever in the age of Coronavirus and Brexit, invoking the spirit of the Irish essayist Hubert Butler to investigate whether collective and personal aims can be synergistic or are destined to remain ever in conflict.
Winner Michael Amherst takes on identity politics, questioning whether the stratification of society in the name of social justice is helpful or harmful in the pursuit of equality. Runners-up Tara McEvoy and David Crane tackle, respectively, the necessity of collective action as a response to the current pandemic and other social crises, and the role of conflicts of individual freedom in facilitating or stifling the economic liberation of refugees. Special mentions have been awarded to Nick Inman and Beninio McDonough-Tranza for their respective essays on personal responsibility and the legacy of the Polish union Solidarnosc.