Michael Walzer: Is there a clash of civilizations?

Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.

  • Transcript


Question: Is there a clash of civilizations?

Michael Walzer:No, I don’t think so. I think there are too many clashes within each of the civilizations to talk about a clash of--it essentializes each of the civilizations to describe them--but it is true that when fundamentalists or zealots or orthodox or ultra-orthodox people take over a country, then there, they will repress the moderates and the liberals in their own camp and then we confront them, and that does look like a kind of us against them. But we always have to remember in those situations the people who have been repressed, all of the liberal and secular Afghans, for example, who survived the Taliban regime, but we didn’t hear from them while the Taliban were in power, but they're there and those should be our allies and, since we, since we always have allies in the other civilizations, I think it is a big mistake to try to describe that as a kind of war of unified cultures. Recorded on: 2/27/08