Chair: Prof. Dr. Susan Neiman, Potsdam
What went wrong with the last 30 years of history? Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev’s book The Light that Failed is a sharp and brilliant analysis of Western liberalism gone wrong: why most every prediction of what the world would look like after the end of the Cold War has failed. Arguing that the wave of xenophobia that began in Eastern Europe stemmed from resentment at the post-1989 imperative to westernize, the authors then argue that Trump represents an ironic fulfillment of the idea that former Soviet countries would come to resemble the United States.
Published in 2019, the prize-winning book became an instant classic, sparking many translations and discussions among politicians, intellectuals and citizens alike. Yet…quite a lot has happened in the short time since The Light that Failed was published. In this online discussion, Susan Neiman will ask Holmes and Krastev to revisit their theses, and examine the current crises.
Stephen Holmes is Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at the NYU School of Law. He previously taught at Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago. His fields of specialization include the history of liberalism, the disappointments of democratization after communism, and the difficulty of combating terrorism within the limits of liberal constitutionalism.
Ivan Krastev is Chair of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna. He is a founding board member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and other publications.
Susan Neiman is Director of the Einstein Forum. Her latest book: Learning from the Germans. Race and the Memory of Evil (2019)