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Liberalism & Democracy: Past, Present, Prospects

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The New School University Center

63 5th Avenue

Tishman Auditorium

New York, NY 10003

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Liberal democratic values seem embattled as never before in the United States, and around the world. The time is right for a serious and wide-ranging exploration of the prospects for liberal democracies in a context that acknowledges the historical and contemporary tensions between democracy and liberal values, both in theory and in practice. This conference convenes a varied group of scholars, journalists, policy expert and veteran public servants, we hope to stage a real meeting of the minds, not the usual partisan sniping that occurs at most academic events – and we are trying to be as inclusive as possible, by inviting thoughtful representatives from the left, right, and center.

Though liberalism and democracy have become intertwined in some contemporary societies, they have evolved along quite distinct paths historically.

Democracy is an ancient idea, liberalism a very modern one. Greek democracy was not liberal, nor was the revolutionary democracy championed by the sans-culottes in the French Revolution.

To this day, there are many avowedly democratic movements and regimes, both on the left and the right, that explicitly reject liberal values.

Moreover, even in liberal democratic societies, there are important tensions between the two traditions.

At this public seminar, participants will make brief remarks and then engage in dialogue. Over the course of our conversations, we will examine the prospects for liberal democracies against the backdrop of the historical and contemporary tensions between democracy and liberalism.

The second of two conferences organized by James Miller (Professor of Politics, New School for Social Research) and Helena Rosenblatt (Professor of History, CUNY Graduate Center). Sponsored by The New School in partnership with City University of New York, Graduate Center.

Featuring

T Alexander Aleinikoff
Josh Begley
Robert Boyers
Paul Cartledge
EJ Dionne
Federico Finchelstein
Ben Fountain
William Galston
Teresa Ghilarducci
Dipayan Ghosh
Jeffrey C Isaac
Ira Katznelson
James Kloppenberg
Bill Kristol
Paul Krugman
Natasha Lennard
Yuval Levin
Jessica Pisano
Marc Plattner
Aziz Rana
Jennifer Roberts
Sophia Rosenfeld
Rogers Smith
Astra Taylor
Michael Tomasky
Thomas Chatterton Williams
Deva Woodly


CONFERENCE AGENDA

THURSDAY 4:00– 8:30 p.m.

4 p.m.: Film screening with director’s talk back, TBA

6 p.m.: Welcome: Helena Rosenblatt and James Miller

6:10 p.m.: Keynote: Ira Katznelson on The New School and the American Ideal of a Liberal Democracy

6:30–8:30 p.m.: Democracy in History
Panelists: Paul Cartledge, Jennifer Roberts, James Miller, Helena Rosenblatt, James Kloppenberg, E J Dionne Jr. Moderated by Katznelson

FRIDAY 10:00 a.m.– 6:30 p.m.

Conveners and moderators: Robert Boyers, James Miller, Helena Rosenblatt

10:00–11:30 a.m.:
“All men are created equal”: egalitarianism as a contested value in liberal democracies
Opening comments: Yuval Levin, Aziz Rana, Paul Krugman, Teresa Ghilarducci

11:30–1:00 p.m.:
"We the people”: race and immigration as a challenge to modern democracies
Opening comments: Rogers Smith, William Galston, Thomas Chatterton Williams, T. Alexander Aleinikoff


(Lunch break, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.)


2 – 3:30PM:
“Of the people”: demands for purified popular sovereignty and the challenge of exclusionary “majoritarianism” in modern democracies
Opening comments: Federico Finchelstein, Jessica Pisano, Jeffrey Isaac, Ben Fountain

3:30- 4:30 p.m.:
“For the more general diffusion of knowledge”: the politics of truth, government secrecy & precision propaganda in America today
Opening comment by Sophia Rosenfeld, followed by short presentations by Josh Begley and Dipayan Ghosh

4:30 – 6:30 p.m.:
“The last best hope of earth”: prospects for liberal democracy
Opening comments: Marc Plattner, Bill Kristol, Astra Taylor, Deva Woodly, Natasha Lennard, Michael Tomasky


This event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required, with registration through Eventbrite. Seating is not guaranteed, but offered on a first come, first served basis. An overflow room will be available for viewing a video live stream of the event.



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The New School University Center

63 5th Avenue

Tishman Auditorium

New York, NY 10003

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