A new edition of the highly acclaimed book Multiculturalism and "The Politics of Recognition," this paperback brings together an even wider range of leading philosophers and social scientists to probe the political controversy surrounding ...
What kinds of political arrangements enable people from different national, racial, religious, or ethnic groups to live together in peace? In this book one of the most influential political theorists of our time discusses the politics of toleration. Michael Walzer examines five "regimes of toleration"—from multinational empires to immigrant societies—and describes the strengths and weaknesses of each regime, as well as the varying forms of toleration and exclusion each fosters. Walzer shows how power, class, and gender interact with religion, race, (...) and ethnicity in the different regimes and discusses how toleration works—and how it should work—in multicultural societies like the United States. Walzer offers an eloquent defense of toleration, group differences, and pluralism, moving quickly from theory to practical issues, concrete examples, and hard questions. His concluding argument is focused on the contemporary United States and represents an effort to join and advance the debates about "culture war," the "politics of difference," and the "disuniting of America." Although he takes a grim view of contemporary politics, he is optimistic about the possibility of coexistence: cultural pluralism and a common citizenship can go together, he suggests, in a strong and egalitarian democracy. (shrink)
The idea of distributive justice presupposes a bounded world within which distributions takes place: a group of people committed to dividing, exchanging, and sharing social goods, first of all among themselves. That world, as I have already argued, is the political community, whose members distribute power to one another and avoid, if they possibly can, sharing it with anyone else. When we think about distributive justice, we think about independent cities or countries capable of arranging their own patterns of division (...) and exchange, justly or unjustly. We assume an established group and a fixed population, and so we miss the first and most important distributive question: How is that group constituted? (shrink)
In order to answer the question, Can there be a democratic revolution and a religious revival in the same place, at the same time?, I look at a number of 20th-century cases (and several 18th-century cases) where religion and radical politics interacted – with very different results.
In this eagerly awaited book, political theorist Michael Walzer reports his findings after decades of thinking about the politics of the Hebrew Bible. Attentive to nuance while engagingly straightforward, Walzer examines the laws, the histories, the prophecies, and the wisdom of the ancient biblical writers and discusses their views on such central political questions as justice, hierarchy, war, the authority of kings and priests, and the experience of exile. Because there are many biblical writers with differing views, pluralism is a (...) central feature of biblical politics. Yet pluralism, Walzer observes, is never explicitly defended in the Bible; indeed, it couldn’t be defended since God’s word had to be as singular as God himself. Yet different political regimes are described in the biblical texts, and there are conflicting political arguments—and also a recurrent anti-political argument: if you have faith in God, you have no need for strong institutions, prudent leaders, or reformist policies. At the same time, however, in the books of law and prophecy, the people of Israel are called upon to overcome oppression and “let justice well up like water, righteousness like an unfailing stream.”. (shrink)
Isaiah Berlin welcomed the decline of political utopianism and was eager to help it along. But there are reasons to think that occasional moments of utopian aspiration and enthusiasm are necessary to sustain even moderate liberal regimes. In all such regimes there are ‘natural’ tendencies towards authoritarianism and hierarchy, which have to be resisted. And it is hard to image a successful resistance that isn’t fuelled by something very like political utopianism.
Bart Pattyn: Needless to say, we are more than pleased with the willingness of Michael Walzer to be here in Leuven. After the stimulating lecture yesterday we now have the opportunity to pose some questions to Michael Walzer in the same room where we talked with his friend, Harry Frankfurt, as well as with Bernard Williams. I have asked Professor Selling to moderate this discussion which I am sure he will do with a firm hand.Joseph Selling: We have two papers (...) which Prof. Walzer, and many of you, have read in advance. Perhaps we can take the questions from the authors of those papers and then take other questions. (shrink)
This volume of collected essays by Michael Walzer seeks to bring a more concentrated focus on specifically Jewish outlooks regarding three key themes: "Political Order and Civil Society"; "Territory, Sovereignty, and International Society"; and "War and Peace.".
I finished the first draft of this lecture just before the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia began — a campaign that provides, I think, a prime example of the failure of international society. A double failure in this case: its political agencies were not able to respond in a timely fashion to the disaster of the former Yugoslavia, and then they were not able to find a more effective form of military intervention. The problem both times wasn't one of organization (...) but of political will, and I am afraid that I won't have much to say in this lecture about how to solve it. No doubt there are organizational structures that lend themselves to swift and strong action in a crisis.But these structures can as easily produce reckless and cruel acts as wise ones, and so we need to limit their powers. And then, properly limited, they may not act at all. This dilemma is an old one, and my way of dealing with it — which, as you will see, is to multiply structures and agents in the hope that somewhere, somehow, someone will do the right thing — will certainly seem inadequate. I concede immediately that I cannot produce an organizational chart showing how a decision to act rightly in international society would be deliberated, and decided, and then resolutely carried out. There is no such procedural or organizational solution; we have to think instead of a political strategy for coping with crises and for creating the sorts of agents that might cope successfully. That's my goal. It doesn't answer to the urgency of the daily news, but these days nothing could answer.I imagine the possible political arrangements of international society as if they were laid out along a continuum marked off according to the degree of centralization. Obviously, there are alternative markings: the recognition and enforcement of human rights could also be measured along a continuum, as could democratization, economic laissez-faire, welfare provision, pluralism, and so on. But I think that focusing on centralization is the best way of opening a discussion of international politics and the quickest way to reach all the other political and moral questions, above all the classical question: what is the best or the best possible regime? What constitutional goals should we set ourselves in an age of globalization?My plan is to present seven possible regimes or constitutions or political arrangements. I will do this discursively, without providing a list in advance, but I do want to list the criteria against which the seven arrangements have to be evaluated: these are their capacity to promote peace, distributive justice, cultural pluralism, and individual freedom. Obviously, within the scope of a single lecture, I will have to deal much too briefly and summarily with some of the arrangements and some of the criteria. This is especially regrettable since the criteria turn out to be inconsistent with, or at least in tension with, one another. So my argument will be complicated, and could be, probably should be, much more so. (shrink)
Among soldiers who choose to fight, restraints of various sorts arise easily and, one might say, naturally, the product of mutual respect and recognition. The stories of chivalric knights are for the most part stories, but there can be no doubt that a military code was widely shared in the later Middle Ages and sometimes honored. The code was designed for the convenience of the aristocratic warriors, but it also reflected their sense of themselves as persons of a certain sort, (...) engaged in activities that were freely chosen. Chivalry marked off knights from mere ruffians and bandits and also from peasant soldiers who bore arms as a necessity. I suppose that it survives today: some sense of military honor is still the creed of the professional soldier, the sociological if not the lineal descendent of the feudal knight. But notions of honor and chivalry seem to play only a small part in contemporary combat. In the literature of war, the contrast between "then and now" is commonly made--not very accurately, but with a certain truth, as in this poem by Louis Simpson:1.. (shrink)
The morally offensive idea of holy and total war, presented by the Deuteronomic authors as a religious duty, perplexes and disturbs us by its cruelty. We can identify in the biblical texts two different accounts of Israel's conquest of Canaan and can examine the development and interplay of these narratives - and their correlative divergent sets of moral laws. Study of these documents suggests that the notion of holy war was a retrospective invention of the last years of the monarchy. (...) It is closely connected to the Deuteronomic conception of a covenantalkinship community, and it ought to worry political theorists and theologians who find such a community attractive. (shrink)
There are two questions with regard to money: What can it buy? and, How is it distributed? The two must be taken up in that order, for only after we have described the sphere within which money operates, and the scope of its operations, can we sensibly address its distribution. We must figure out how important money really is. It is best to begin with the naive view, which is also the common view, that money is all-important, the root of (...) all evil, the source of all good. "Money answereth all things," as Ecclesiastes says. According to Marx, it is the universal pander, arranging scandalous couplings between people and goods, breaching every natural, every moral barrier. Marx might have discovered this by looking around in nineteenth-century Europe, but in fact he found it in a book, Shakespeare's Timon of Athens, where Timon, digging for buried gold, interrogates his object: Gold? yellow, glittering, precious gold? No, gods. (shrink)
Elizabeth Bounds and Tyler Roberts press for the inclusion of critical voices that "hegemonic" discourse seems to exclude, but the polarity is less marked than they suggest. The newly assertive voices of minority communities criticize social practices not from some alien cultural perspective, but in the name of such broadly shared American values as equality, inclusion, and freedom. They not only expose the power relations that determine the distribution of social goods, but they also exemplify the practice of social criticism (...) by which the contours of shared understanding are regularly redefined. However, because the incorporation of local values is not an additive process, the elements that constitute the cultural synthesis can never be expected to achieve equal standing, and the success of the synthesis cannot properly be judged by that standard. (shrink)