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Save Liberal Democracy

– In Love with Facts

Author

Alexander Görlach

Alexander Goerlach is an academic, essayist and entrepreneur. He served in the academic years 2014-2017 as visiting scholar and J.F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at Harvard University. He researched at both, Harvard Divinity School and Center for European Studies, in the field of politics and religion. Alex holds PhDs in linguistics and in comparative religion. He is further a senior fellow to the Carnegie Center for Ethics in International Affairs, and an op-ed contributor to the New York Times. He was published in German, US-American, Spanish, Danish, Greek, Italian, French, Swiss, Mexican and Indian media. In Germany he is best known as the founder and editor-in-chief of the debate-magazine The European and as a columnist to Wirtschaftswoche, the countries largest business outlet. Alex now hosts the blog-magazine saveliberaldemocracy.com, where he gathers voices that wish to reinvigorate the discourse about Enlightenment and defend the values of liberal democracy.

“The West is nervous”

Dr. Peter Frankopan is a historian at Oxford University, where he is Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford and Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. He works on the history of the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia Central Asia and beyond, and on relations between Christianity and Islam. In his recent book “Silk Roads. A New History of the World” he argues against a Western-centric worldview.

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“We fight over narratives that determine who we are”

Ten years ago Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor wrote his master piece “A Secular Age”. Since then a lot has changed and it seems that not only is religion back as a spiritual, quiet force but also as a determing, clamant factor in global politics. Religous and quasi-religious narratives alike shape the identity of the people, such as the painting by Delacroix in the picture above has shaped the French narrative. We sat down with Professor Taylor to discuss the state of world affairs.

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“Nations are political constructs”

Colin Crouch a few years ago shocked the public with the analysis in his book “Post-Democracy”, claiming that our political order is in heavy decay. Nowadays he may think, due to Brexit and the Trump election, his prediction has in fact come true and even faster than expected. We were talking with the man who may have new predictions for the UK election and the exit from Brexit.

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“Trump forgets that Mexico is the door to South America”

Homero Aridjis is a Mexican poet, journalist and diplomat. Besides critically acclaimed (and frankly beautiful) poetry, he is known for his thought-through and independent views. Aridjis has previously been the Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UNESCO.

SLD: What has the US-Mexican relationship been like over the last sixty years?

Aridjis: Well, if you look at societal, economic or political relationships, it seems as if the US always has been a bully in this relationship. It started in 1845, when Mexico lost half its country to the US. In that war, the US gained some previously Mexican states, for example what now is Arizona or New Mexico. Ever since then, you have had Mexican people live in the US, they were foreigners on their own soil. They were discriminated against, both racially and socially.

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“People may turn to religious leaning leaders in times of insecurity”

Gorski

Philip Gorski is an American Sociologist in the areas of religious and historical Sociology. He is the  Co-Director of Yale’s Center for Comparative Research (CCR), and co-runs the Religion and Politics Colloquium at the Yale MacMillan Center. He sat down with Alexander Görlach to talk about the role of religion in the public sphere.

SLD:Politics and religion are back on stage. Why is it that a res publica like the United States of America or European countries such as Austria, Poland or England never cease invoking religious rhetoric and inventory?

Gorski: Religious and national identities tend to be very entangled with each other. In some instances, this is quite explicit. Many Americans consider the US a “Christian nation.” Many Poles consider their country a “Catholic nation.”

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“Maybe democracies don’t work without control from elites.”

“Populism exists because institutions are elite-driven”, but democracies don’t work well without elites, says the acclaimed author of The End of History, Francis Fukuyama in an interview with Alexander Görlach at Stanford University.


SLD: How would you sum up the last year? What has happened to the world order?

Fukuyama: The big surprise is that this wave of populist nationalism has happened in the home territory of classic, liberalist Anglo-Saxon areas. For the first time, at least in my time, there is a president who openly dismisses America’s role in a liberal world order. The other problem with Donald Trump is his utter lack of qualification for the job, be it preparation, character or temperament. Nothing since his inauguration has eased any of those concerns, either…

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“The only effective antidote to fact-free populism is a credible rationality”

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford, and the Center for European Studies, Harvard. He has authored fourteen books and his 2011 feature-length film Kissinger won the New York International Film Festival’s prize for best documentary. He writes a weekly column for the London Sunday Times and the Boston Globe.

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“The Trump presidency will generate a favorable context for the EU.”

Alexander Görlach interviews José Manuel Martínez SierraJean Monnet ad personam Professor for the Study of European Union Law and Government, Faculty Affiliate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard and Faculty Associate of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

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The War on Facts

By Alexander Görlach

This year Mr. Trump and Mr. Farage challenged the Western narrative on what is seen as a fact. Time to teach them a lesson.

Celebrating the holidays, Christmas or Hanukkah, one may realize it is a great moment of the year to talk about facts: what are facts? What do facts mean and how do facts convert into relevance for policymaking and our daily life? The biblical tidings are rather wondrous: oil that would only supply the Tempel’s Menorah for one day lasted for eight days. Angels herald the birth of a child out of a virgin’s womb. Clearly the texts of the holy scriptures to our modern ear and mind do not reflect facts in the way we understand them today.

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