What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
With rendition switcher


Question: Should Americans promote democracy around the world?

Michael Walzer: Well, I think democrats, small “d” democrats should promote democracy around the world. They should do it by cultivating friendships with democrats in other countries, especially democratic dissidents and authoritarian countries. They should provide them with moral support. They should make sure that their names are known in the world so that the governments, their governments cannot make them disappear so easily. They should contribute money to groups like Human Rights Watch. I think international civil society is the space within which we should be democracy promoters, and although groups like Human Rights Watch don’t say that they are working for regime change, they are in fact working for regime change when they expose the brutalities of despotic regimes. And that’s the place. I think at the governmental level we need to be much more cautious. Governments are coercive, governments command military power, governments should not be involved in the work of democracy promotion, except in very limited and special circumstances. Had there been, let’s say, a NATO or a European Union intervention in Rwanda, where European countries had been involved as colonial powers, had there been a European intervention in Rwanda to stop the killing and necessarily to overthrow the Hutu Power government which was organizing the killing, then Europeans would have been responsible for the political reconstruction of the country, perhaps under a UN mandate of some sort. And then, they should aim at the best regime that they can possibly create in those circumstances, first of all, most importantly, a non murderous regime. But if the opportunity presented itself to create a more or less democratic regime, they should do it, because they are already there and they face a need for political reconstruction. But, I wouldn’t go around promoting democracy by military means. I think that’s a bad idea.


Michael Walzer on Democracy...

Newsletter: Share: