The Struggle for a Decent Politics: On "Liberal" as an Adjective (Hardcover)

The Struggle for a Decent Politics: On
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A testament to what it means to be liberal by one of the most prominent political philosophers of our era
 
“Walzer is perhaps our foremost pilot on these rocky shoals. In his preface, he writes that this may be his last book. One hopes not.”—James Traub, New York Times

 
There was a time when liberalism was an ism like any other, but that time, writes Michael Walzer, is gone. “Liberal” now conveys not a specific ideology but a moral stance, so the word is best conceived not as a noun but as an adjective—one is a “liberal democrat” or a “liberal nationalist.”
 
Walzer itemizes the characteristics described by “liberal” in an inventory of his own deepest political and moral commitments—among other things, to the principle of equality, to the rule of law, and to a pluralism that is both political and cultural. Unabashedly asserting that liberalism comprises a universal set of values (“they must be universal,” he writes, “since they are under assault around the world”), Walzer reminds us in this inspiring book why those values are worth fighting for.

About the Author


Michael Walzer is emeritus professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. One of America’s foremost political thinkers, he served as editor of the political journal Dissent for more than three decades. He lives in Princeton, NJ.

Praise For…


“Walzer is perhaps our foremost pilot on these rocky shoals. In his preface, he writes that this may be his last book. One hopes not.”—James Traub, New York Times

“[A] superb testimony to a lifelong struggle for a decent politics.”—Mario Clemens, LSE Review of Books

“A stirring defense of liberalism as the political stance best suited to democracy. . . . A spirited, broad-ranging case for liberalism and against its populist and nationalist discontents.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Thought-provoking and beautifully written. . . . [Walzer] is one of the towering political theorists of the past century.”—Charles H. T. Lesch, Jewish Review of Books

“This little book by one of the most eminent thinkers of our time contains more political wisdom and moral decency than shelves of tomes on liberalism and its discontents. There is no better defender or critic of our ‘seriously imperfect liberal democracy’ than Michael Walzer.”—Michael Kazin, author of What It Took to Win

The Struggle for a Decent Politics is one of those books that we may come to think of as making the case for liberalism at its best. There are many distinguished predecessors in this list, from J. S. Mill’s On Liberty to Lionel Trilling’s Liberal Imagination to Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty. It would not surprise me if one day we thought of Michael Walzer’s book in this company. It deserves to be.”—Steven B. Smith, author of Reclaiming Patriotism in an Age of Extremes

“In this remarkable, deeply personal book, Michael Walzer melds political theory and un-elegiac memoir to trace the perennial struggle between liberalism and its enemies, a struggle that flashes in every facet of his political life—and ours. Walzer’s lifetime of learning and reflection has yielded an undimmed spirit of defiance, not just of brutal injustice but of the cults of true doctrine that injustice inspires. We’ve never needed that spirit more than now.”—Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy

“Michael Walzer’s new book is a departure—it’s his most personal work yet—and, also, a continuation of the themes he’s developed so incisively for over four decades. This is a sometimes surprising, always illuminating look at key political concepts you may think you know (but don’t).The Struggle for a Decent Politics reminds us of what is worth fighting for, and of what can be lost.”—Susie Linfield, author of The Lions’ Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky

Product Details
ISBN: 9780300267235
ISBN-10: 0300267231
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: January 17th, 2023
Pages: 176
Language: English