Democracy Rules

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Thursday, 24 February 2022, online at 8am Sydney time (which will be the evening of Wednesday 23 February 2022 in Europe and the Americas)

Speaker: Professor Jan-Werner Müller

On this occasion, Jan-Werner Müller* will be joining us for a discussion about his newly-released book, Democracy Rules (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021), which centres on the idea that democracy is founded not just on liberty and equality, but also on uncertainty – perhaps unattractive at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created unbearable uncertainty for so many. But, Müller argues, uncertainty is also crucial for ensuring democracy’s dynamic and creative character, which remains one of its signal advantages over authoritarian alternatives that seek to render politics (and individual citizens) completely predictable.

In the wider scheme of this book, he contends that it will be crucial to re-invigorate the intermediary institutions that have been deemed essential for democracy’s success ever since the nineteenth century: political parties and free media. Contrary to conventional wisdom, these are not spent forces in a supposed age of post-party populist leadership and post-truth. He sets out how democracy’s critical infrastructure of intermediary institutions could be renovated, re-empowering citizens while also preserving a place for professionals such as journalists and judges – keeping in mind that these institutions also seem indispensable for negotiating a democratic social contract that reverses the secession of plutocrats and the poorest from a common political world.

The discussion panel for this webinar will be the leaders of our research project, Honorary Associate Professor Adam Czarnota and Professor Martin Krygier, both of the University of New South Wales, and Professor Wojciech Sadurski of the University of Sydney. (Read more about our project leaders)

The event is free, but registration is essential to gain access to this webinar.

Our project is co-hosting this talk with the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law.

*Jan-Werner Müller is Roger Williams Straus Professor of Social Sciences, Professor of Politics, and Founding Director, Project in the History of Political Thought, at Princeton University, where he has been teaching since 2005. Previously, from 1996 until 2003 he was a Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and from 2003 until 2005 he was Fellow in Modern European Thought at the European Studies Centre, St. Antony’s College. Among his various books, Was ist Populismus? [What is Populism?] (2016) has been published or is scheduled to be published in more than twenty other languages. His public affairs commentary and essays have appeared in the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, the New York Times, and Project Syndicate.