Politics and Passion Toward a More Egalitarian Liberalism Michael Walzer

Publication date:
01 Mar 2006
Yale University Press
208 pages: 210 x 140mm
Sales territories:
Not for sale in Spain, Germany, France and Italy

A preeminent political theorist argues—against prevailing liberal theory—for the role of passion in political life

Liberalism is egalitarian in principle, but why doesn’t it do more to promote equality in practice? In this book, the distinguished political philosopher Michael Walzer offers a critique of liberal theory and demonstrates that crucial realities have been submerged in the evolution of contemporary liberal thought.

In the standard versions of liberal theory, autonomous individuals deliberate about what ought to be done—but in the real world, citizens also organize, mobilize, bargain, and lobby. The real world is more contentious than deliberative. Ranging over hotly contested issues including multiculturalism, pluralism, difference, civil society, and racial and gender justice, Walzer suggests ways in which liberal theory might be revised to make it more hospitable to the claims of equality.

Combining profound learning with practical wisdom, Michael Walzer offers a provocative reappraisal of the core tenets of liberal thought. Politics and Passion willbe required reading for anyone interested in social justice—and the means by which we seek to achieve it.

Michael Walzer is UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of more than a dozen books.

"In this elegant and incisive book, Michael Walzer draws on everyday political experience to open up some of the theoretical dead-ends in which contemporary democratic theory has become stalled. The book?s positive, constructive emphasis will make it useful to anyone interested in issues of social equality."?Bernard Yack, Brandeis University

"This clearly and engagingly written book shows up the thinness of much contemporary Liberal theory. In its search for the ultimate, basic principles of Liberalism, this theory neglects whole strata of actually living Liberal societies. Informed by his social democratic convictions, Walzer allows the real dilemmas of egalitarian Liberalism to surface, and faces them honestly, without the conjuring tricks and obfuscation that philosophy can lend itself to."?Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill

"This book is brim full of the acute intelligence, human understanding, and practical wisdom that we have come to expect from Michael Walzer. In Politics and Passion he combines a radical commitment to equality and democracy with a hard-won recognition of the realities of politics. His exposition is sane, thoughtful, experienced, tenaciously principled?and a joy to read."?Jane Mansbridge, Adams Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

?With his usual originality, clarity, depth, and intelligent judgments, Michael Walzer offers a perspective on political life that reveals serious inadequacies in standard liberal views and points to directions of change.??Robert Dahl, Sterling Professor Emeritus, Yale University

"This book is timely and original. It recommends to us a way of supplementing liberalism so that it is more hospitable to the claims of both equality and multiculturalism."?Stephen K. White, University of Virginia

"[The book] belongs to a vigorous debate among liberal political theorists that has bypassed most conservatives. Even when we discuss similar issues, our orientation, references, and concerns differ. Indeed, the book reminds us, usefully, how a large segment of the liberal-left now talks. Walzer?s thoughts come from someone whose independence and intelligence make him a force in his own right, however; so his arguments are not merely emblematic but individual."?Mark Blitz, Claremont Review of Books

?[An] elegant and probing critique of contemporary liberal thought.??G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs

"With characteristic elegance, clarity, and nuance, Michael Walzer here refines and extends the thesis he first ventured 15 years ago that the fragmentary effects of liberalism require periodic communitarian correction."?Perspectives on Politics