Can We Square the Circle? Universalism Versus Communitarianism


The political Left has long faced tension regarding its universalistic commitments and those to the nation it inhabits. The dilemma is captured succinctly in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen that articulated leftist or progressive devotion to both man in the historic collective sense of human beings, as well as to the fellow members of a particular political community at the time of the French Revolution. That older tension persists at the same time that the left has increasingly today become associated with identity politics and such phenomena. So how can the Left square this circle between universalism and its own national community?

In this episode of International Horizons, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle and Ivan Serrano authors of “Universalism Within: The Tension between Universalism and Community in Progressive Ideology”, discuss the concept and importance of universalism and how it is closely related to the conception of nation-states, creating a tension of values where the clashes between educated and non-educated translate into right-wing politics. Moreover, they explain the relationship between identity politics and universalism, and how the working class has shifted within politics in Europe and the United States.

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International Horizons

International Horizons is a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly expertise to bear on our understanding of international issues. John Torpey, the host of the podcast and director of the Ralph Bunche Institute, holds conversations with prominent scholars and figures in state-of-the-art international issues in our weekly episodes.

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