Skip to content
Who's in the Video
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[…]

We were once headed toward a more egalitarian society, Walzer says.

Question: What are the greatest inequalities in the American political system?

Michael Walzer: Well, no, obviously, we have a society of growing inequality. If you look at the graphs just of income and wealth distribution--in the time that I was growing up America was becoming a more egalitarian society, from sometime in the 30s to the late 60s. It was slow progress, but it was progress toward a more egalitarian distribution both of income and of wealth. Since then we have become in radically unequal, and some of the disparities are a quite amazing. And those kinds of inequalities of wealth and income are convertible into inequalities in the legal system, inequalities in the political system, inequalities in the educational system. We know what wealth can buy in the United States or anywhere where it is set free, as it is standardly in a capitalist system, so we are not an equitable society, and we have not become...and we have become less rather than more equitable over the last decade.


As with any “big idea” progress means a lot of different things to different people and not everyone comes into the discussion with the same priors. Some experts are primarily focused on material progress while others emphasize the importance of moral progress. So to start the discussion, we asked each expert to define the term as they see it from their specific vantage point.