Michael Walzer on World’s Potential for Democracy

Question: Do you ever worry that same countries will never allow liberal democracy to thrive?

Michael Walzer: Certainly, yes, I’ve had the experience of thinking that, but I’m not sure it’s a smart thought. Look at Korea, which has a common, the whole peninsula has a common history and a strong intellectual tradition, a strong cultural tradition, which is Buddhist and Confucian and, now, in the South, Christian. But the South is against all the odds, you would think, of a thriving democracy, and the North is a brutal tyranny, and I don't think anyone looking at Korea in the 1950’s would have predicted that the South would turn out the way it has. And so I assume that in other countries that don’t look as if they are likely to be receptive to the practices that democracy requires, the practice of opposition, the practice of tolerating opposition, the practice of a free press, the practice of party, of party organization. There are many countries where those practices don’t look natural, and whether they come or not, I think we don’t fully understand the processes by which those practices take hold, and I think they can take hold in unexpected places, and I hope they will.

An optimist, Michael Walzer thinks every person can eventually embrace democracy.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

A map of London's most toxic breathing spots

Air pollution is up to five times over the EU limit in these Central London hotspots.

Strange Maps
  • Dirty air is an invisible killer, but an effective one.
  • More than 9,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to air pollution, a recent study estimates.
  • This map visualizes the worst places to breathe in Central London.
Keep reading Show less