Michael Walzer
Professor Emeritus, The Institute for Advanced Study
02:26

Michael Walzer on His Essays

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Michael Walzer discusses his "Essays on Political Criticism"

Michael Walzer

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

Michael Walzer:  Well, it’s a… In this book, the theme that David Miller, who collect these or his favorites of my essays, the theme that he identified and used as the title is a commitment to politics. Because it has often seem to me that there is a certain kind of political theory and perhaps a certain kind of a [luddites] politics, sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left of people who don’t like politics. They don’t like the messiness. They think that there must be a true path and somebody must know it. And once we know it, we should just somehow find a way to walk along that path and not be distracted by personal ambition and political interests and all of the arguments. It happened with John [Rowe] that certain people read his book, which was a wonderful book, and decided that he was right. And if of different principle was the crucial principle of decent or egalitarian or just politics and that therefore the Supreme Court should start enforcing it. And you didn’t have to win elections because we now knew, we now knew what was right. And that kind of a [luddism], that kind of… on the left is [vanguardism] I have always disliked.


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