[EVENT | October 5–6] The Crisis of Democracy

[EVENT | October 5–6] The Crisis of Democracy

Join the Albert Shanker Institute, Dissent, and many more for a two-day conference on the Crisis of Democracy, October 5–6 in Washington, D.C.

We are proud to co-sponsor the following conference, featuring Dissent editors and contributors Michael Walzer, Sarah Leonard, Sheri Berman, and more. The conference will also form the basis for our Winter 2018 issue. If you can’t attend, subscribe now to read the highlights in print. 

You are invited to a two-day conference on:

Thursday, Oct. 5, 3:00 p.m. to Friday, Oct. 6, 5:00 p.m.
Washington Court Hotel, Atrium Ballroom
525 New Jersey Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20001
The conference is free, registration is required.

Organized by the Albert Shanker Institute

Co-Sponsors:  the American Federation of Teachers | American Prospect Magazine | Center for Innovation in Worker Organization, Rutgers University | Democratic Socialists of America | Dissent Magazine | Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University | New Labor Forum  |  United Association for Labor Education

We are experiencing an organic crisis of democracy that is international in scope. In response, a conference is being convened that draws together intellectuals and activists from across the globe to examine and explore different dimensions of that crisis. The speakers will venture into a deeper analysis of the political forces and dynamics at work, with an eye to identifying opportunities to strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices.

Speakers will explore such themes as the:

  • Nature of the populist challenge;
  • Relationship between growing economic inequality and the loss of political trust in the capacity and purpose of government;
  • Intersections of race, class, religion, ethnicity and immigration in Trumpism, Brexit and other populist movements of the right;
  • Decay of political parties (especially of the left and center-left) and civil society (declines in organized religion, organized labor, and community and neighborhood associations), on the one hand, and the rise of authoritarianism, on the other;
  • Relationship between protest movements, political action and power in the resistance to authoritarianism of the right;
  • Ways in which a number of reactionary and racist initiatives, from voter suppression initiatives to attacks on immigration and immigrants, are centered on redefining citizenship in exclusionary and restrictive ways; and
  • Most effective ways for citizen activists to organize and respond, both in the United States and abroad.


THURSDAY, October 5, 3:00 pm:

The Crisis of Democracy: Global Perspectives

Han Dongfang, independent union leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, China Labour Bulletin

Mac Maharaj, former cellmate of Nelson Mandela, African National Congress of South Africa

Education, Civil Society and the Defense of Democracy

Shuli Dichter, Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel

Rob Goodman, Columbia University

FRIDAY, October 6:

A Conversation on American Unions and the Crisis of Democracy

Mary Kay Henry, Service Employees International Union

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers

The Populist Challenge in the Crisis of Democracy: Class, Race, Gender

John Judis, Talking Points Memo

Bob Kuttner, American Prospect

Sarah Leonard, The Nation

Carla Murphy, writer

Phil Thompson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Maurice Weeks, Action Center on Race and the Economy

The Political Dynamics of the Crisis of Democracy I

Sheri Berman, Columbia University

Colin Crouch, University of Warwick, Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung

Barnabas Kadar, Momentum Mozagalom, Hungary

Joseph Schwartz, Temple University

The Political Dynamics of the Crisis of Democracy II

Jazz Hooks, Democratic Socialists of America

Anton Shekhovstov, “Explorations of the Far Right” book series; Institute for Human Sciences, Austria

Ken Surin, Duke University

Fred Van Leeuwen, Education International