Conference: Speaking the Language of Liberalism and Democracy: Far Right Intellectuals, Pundits, and Politicians and the New Threat to Liberal Democracy

(part of a series)

Location: 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls (View on map )

Liberalism Image 2 Web

In well-established democracies such as the United States and in Europe, far-right thinkers, media personalities, and politicians increasingly seek to legitimize their positions by presenting themselves as defenders of ideas and norms that we typically associate with classical liberalism, such as “freedom,” “liberty,” “equality,” “tolerance,” and “rights.” In many cases, surprisingly, these claims have made it possible for these figures (e.g., Marine Le Pen, Thierry Baudet, Peter Thiel, Tucker Carlson) to attract broad public attention. This conference (December 9 and 10) will address this contemporary use and abuse of the “language of liberalism,” exploring this aspect of the vulnerability of liberal democracies: the counterintuitive ways in which the core principles of liberalism can be used to serve illiberal and anti-liberal purposes. The conference will also provide an opportunity to reflect on the possible contours of a post-liberal democratic future (assuming that liberal democracy is no longer able to defend itself).

Please contact Rebekah Prince, Nanovic Institute event coordinator, for questions and registration.
Presented by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies with cosponsorship from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the William M. Scholl Chair of International Affairs.

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Confirmed participants in the conference are:
Agnieszka Bień-Kacała (University of Szczecin, Poland)
Alice Blum (University of Giessen, Germany)
Alejandro Castrillón (Baylor University)
Tímea Drinóczi (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil)
Laura Field (American University)
George Hawley (University of Alabama)
Jim McAdams (University of Notre Dame)
Petra Mlejnková (Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic)
Steven Pittz (University of Colorado)
Sarah Shurts (Bergen Community College)
Joshua Vandiver (Ball State University)
Frank Wolff (Osnabrück University, Germany)
José Pedro Zúquete (University of Lisbon, Portugal)


A. James McAdams is the William M. Scholl Professor of International Affairs and former director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies (2002-2018).  He has written widely on European, especially central European, affairs.  His new project, "The New Messiahs," examines the thinking of such post-Leninist theorists as Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Michael Hardt, Bruno Bosteels, Antonio Negri, and Costas Douzinas.