Two Visions of Democracy: Letter 4

Two Visions of Democracy: Letter 4


Dear Nadia,

It appears that the Cold War analogy is centrally important in our discussion. You keep coming back to its Italian version, where Bobbio argued for a politics of dialogue rather than of confrontation. And I have conceded that that may well have been the right argument in Italy.

But its effectiveness, even in Italy, depended on the larger international confrontation. Without the Truman Doctrine in Greece, without the Korean War, without Radio Free Europe, without the strong support and wide publicity that American ‘Cold Warriors’ gave to the Eastern dissidents, without the Hungarian and Czech uprisings, Stalinist communism would have been a flourishing and probably expanding system—and the Italian CP would never have changed at all.

So maybe there is an argument to be made for a division of labor. Some of us should be involved in a politics of dialogue, and some of us should be waging a tough ideological campaign, not against Islam as a block but against jihadi zealotry. But if that is right, why are the Reset people so hostile to the tough campaign? I will continue to be skeptical about the value of cross-cultural exchange—not hostile, just skeptical. But a local dialogue about whether or not a mosque should be built in this town, between supporters and opponents, that seems to me not only valuable but absolutely necessary.


Read Nadia Urbinati’s “Two Visions of Democracy”
Read Michael Walzer’s Response

Read Urbinati’s letter to Walzer (1)
Read Walzer’s letter to Urbinati (2)
Read Urbinati’s letter to Walzer (3)
Read Walzer’s letter to Urbinati (4)

This debate originally appeared in the Italian political journal Reset and Reset: Dialogues on Civilization. ©ResetDOC

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