New Book on Political Moderation



Aurelian Craiutu, professor of political science at Indiana University, has recently released a book on political moderation in an age of extremes.

Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes

 

Aristotle listed moderation as one of the moral virtues. He also defined virtue as the mean between extremes, implying that moderation plays a vital role in all forms of moral excellence. But moderation’s protean character—its vague and ill-defined omnipresence in judgment and action—makes it exceedingly difficult to grasp theoretically. At the same time, moderation seems to be the foundation of many contemporary democratic political regimes, because the competition between parties cannot properly function without compromise and bargaining. The success of representative government and its institutions depends to a great extent on the virtue of moderation, yet the latter persists in being absent from both the conceptual discourse of many political philosophers and the campaign speeches of politicians fearful of losing elections if they are perceived as moderates.

Aurelian Craiutu aims to resolve this paradox. Examining the writings of prominent twentieth-century thinkers such as Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Norberto Bobbio, Michael Oakeshott, and Adam Michnik, he addresses the following questions: What does it mean to be a moderate voice in political and public life? What are the virtues and limits of moderation? Can moderation be the foundation for a successful platform or party? Though critics maintain that moderation is merely a matter of background and personal temperament, Craiutu finds several basic norms that have consistently appeared in different national and political contexts. The authors studied in this book defended pluralism, of ideas, interests, and social forces, and sought to achieve a sound balance between them through political trimming. They shared a preoccupation with political evil and human dignity, but refused to see the world in Manichaean terms that divide it neatly into the forces of light and those of darkness. Faces of Moderation argues that moderation remains crucial for today’s encounters with new forms of extremism and fundamentalism across the world.

Professor Craiutu has been interviewed on NPR, and his book has been reviewed in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

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Aurelian Craiutu is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Adjunct Professor in the American Studies Program. He is also affiliated with the Russian and East European Institute, the Institute for European Studies, the Ostrom Workshop, and the Lilly School of Philanthropic Studies. Craiutu’s research interests include French political and social thought (Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Constant, Madame de Staël, Guizot, Aron), political ideologies (liberalism, conservatism) as well as theories of transition to democracy and democratic consolidation (mostly Central and Eastern Europe). He is the author and editor of several books on modern political thought.

He also is director of the JMC partner program at Indiana, the Tocqueville Program, which fosters an understanding of the central importance of principles of freedom and equality for democratic government and moral responsibility, as well as for economic and cultural life. It focuses on the theoretical foundations of democracy, and the development of liberal democratic institutions particularly in the American historical context.