Friday 08 December 2017, 18:30 - 19:45

Populism, Nationalism, and the Future of Democracy

Craig Calhoun

President of the Berggruen Institute

Auditorum Ivan Pictet
Maison de la paix, Geneva

Defenders of democracy often worry about populism and nationalism as though these were ‘external’ threats or distortions. In fact, each is intimately connected to contemporary large-scale democracy. Modern democracies depend on very large-scale social integration. Populism and nationalism are responses to failures or upheavals in that large-scale integration. They reflect and call attention to genuine issues at scales from personal and family life through local communities to nation-states and international relations. But these genuine issues are frequently manipulated by demagogues.

Craig Calhoun has been President of the Berggruen Institute since 2016. From 2012-2016, he was Director and President of the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he remains Centennial Professor. He is the author of several books including: The Roots of Radicalism (2012) and Neither Gods nor Emperors (1994), which examined the student movement behind the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing. In 2007 he published Nations Matter, which predicted rising nationalist and populist challenges to cosmopolitanism grounded in a highly unequal global economy.


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