The Crisis of Liberalism

In America and around the globe, the liberal political order that has dominated the world since the second world war has recently come under unprecedented challenges to its legitimacy. What weaknesses in the liberal order made these challenges possible? Is liberalism dying? How would it need to change in order to survive? For two years, the Tocqueville Program will consider the nature and history of liberalism and the challenges to it, with a view to helping us more soberly navigate the unsettled age that is dawning.

2020-2021 Lecturers

February 23, 2021: Yuval Levin

“’Why Institutions Matter”

Yuval Levin is director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  He also holds the Beth and Ravenel Curry Chair in Public Policy.  The founding and current editor of the journal National Affairs, he is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis and a contributing editor to National Review. He served as a member of the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. He was also executive director of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a congressional staffer at the member, committee, and leadership levels.  He has published essays and articles in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Commentary. He is the author of several books on political theory and public policy, including A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream; The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism; and The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.  He holds a B.A. from American University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.

View the lecture.

 

March 30, 2021: Reverend Eugene Rivers

“MLK Jr., Liberalism and Richard Rorty’s Prediction”

Reverend Eugene F. Rivers III is a Pentecostal minister, community activist, and renowned speaker. A former gang member, Reverend Rivers is recognized as one of the most effective crusaders against gang violence.  In 1984, he founded Azusa Christian Community in Boston’s inner-city Dorchester neighborhood.  As president of the National Ten Point Leadership Foundation, he worked to build new grassroots leadership in forty of the worst inner-city neighborhoods in America.  In addition to youth activism, Reverend Rivers has worked on community development, faith-based initiatives, and domestic and foreign policy issues. He advised both Bush Administrations and the Clinton Administration on their faith-based initiatives and on foreign policy regarding the AIDS crisis in Africa. Rivers has appeared on CNN’s Hardball, NBC’s Meet the Press, PBS’s Charlie Rose, BET’s Lead Story, and on National Public Radio.  He has been featured or provided commentary in numerous publications such as Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Herald, Christianity Today, and Sojourners. He has also written numerous essays, including “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals in an Age of Crack,” “Beyond the Nationalism of Fools: A Manifesto for a New Black Movement,” and “Black Churches and the Challenge of U.S. Foreign and Development Policy.” Rivers was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and at Harvard University.

April 22, 2021: Joshua Mitchell

“Looking for Redemption in all the Wrong Places”

Joshua Mitchell is Professor of Political Theory at Georgetown University. He served as Chairman of the Government Department and was Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar. During the 2008-10 academic years, Dr. Mitchell took a leave from Georgetown to serve as Acting Chancellor of The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani. His research interest lies in the relationship between political thought and theology in the West. His books include Not By Reason Alone: Religion, History, And Identity in Early Modern Thought; The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future; Plato’s Fable: On the Mortal Condition in Shadowy Times; and Tocqueville in Arabia: Dilemmas in a Democratic Age.  His latest book is American Awakening:  Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of Our Time.  Dr. Mitchell received a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Michigan, an MA in Sociology from the University of Washington, and an MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.  In addition to teaching at Georgetown University, Dr. Mitchell is an avid conservationist, working to restore his small forest on the Eastern Shore and helping to develop the next generation of solar-electric sailboats.

View the lecture.

2019-2020 Lecturers

October 29, 2019: Panayiotis Kanelos

“’This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.’ A Shakespearean Education for Liberty”

Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos is President of St. John’s College, Annapolis.  He previously served as Dean of the Honors College at Valparaiso University, during which time he also oversaw the administration and finances of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, a network of 100 colleges and universities that advances liberal arts education through conferences, workshops, publications, and fellowships.  Kanelos began his academic career at Loyola University Chicago, where he was a core faculty member of the honors program, an associate professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, and the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Shakespeare Studies Program. An ardent Shakespeare fan and scholar, he has authored and edited numerous books, articles, and essays on Shakespeare, including the “Shakespeare and the Stage” series.  Kanelos holds a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago, a M.A. in Political Philosophy and Literature from the University Professors Program at Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Northwestern University.

View the lecture.

January 23, 2020: Patrick J. Deneen

“Taking Populism Seriously”

Patrick J. Deneen is the David A. Potenziani Memorial College Chair in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame.  His teaching focuses on the history of political thought, and his writing deals with the growing conflict between globalist meritocratic elites and populist nationalists.  His many books include The Odyssey of Political Theory, Democratic Faith, Conserving America?  Thoughts on Present Discontents, and Why Liberalism Failed, one of the most talked-about books of political philosophy in recent years.  According to President Barack Obama, Why Liberalism Failed “offers cogent insights into the loss of meaning and community that many in the West feel, issues that liberal democracies ignore at their own peril.”  Prior to Notre Dame, he taught at Princeton University and Georgetown University.  He holds a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University.

View the lecture.

February 25, 2020: Shadi Hamid

“Can Liberalism Survive in an Age of Populism?”

Dr. Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Lionel Gelber Prize for best book on foreign affairs, and co-editor of Rethinking Political Islam. His first book Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East was named a Foreign Affairs Best Book of 2014. Hamid was recently named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers of 2019 by Prospect magazine. An expert on Islam and politics, Hamid also served as director of research at the Brookings Doha Center until January 2014. He received his B.S. and M.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and his Ph.D. in political science from Oxford University.

View the lecture.

March 24, 2020: Yuval Levin

“Why Institutions Matter”

Yuval Levin is a resident scholar and director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the founding editor of the journal National Affairs. He is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis and a contributing editor to National Review. He served as a member of the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush. He was also executive director of the President’s Council on Bioethics and a congressional staffer at the member, committee, and leadership levels.  He has published essays and articles in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Commentary. He is the author of several books on political theory and public policy, including A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream; The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism; and The Great Debate:  Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left.  He holds a B.A. from American University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago.