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Philosophy and Politics

In this program, Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford, examines how the explosive issues of the 1960s compelled the reassessment of fundamental political ideas, and discusses the effect of this movement on political philosophy at the universities.
2003; 1977
Law (Klaus Reading Room) Map

The Ister

In 1942 Martin Heidegger delivered as series of lectures on Friedrich Hölderlin's poem The Ister, lectures in which he addressed the political, cultural and military chaos facing Germany at that time. In this film, on a journey from the mouth of the Danube in Romania to its source in the Black Forest, three French philosophers, Bernard Stiegler, Jean-Luc Nancy, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and the German filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, ponder Heidegger's philosophical ideas about technology, time, mortality, memory and history, and consider how they relate to today's Europe.
Clemons (Stacks)

Hijacking the Arab Spring? [electronic resource]: The Rise of the Islamists

For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood was an outlawed organization, marginalized and persecuted. Today, along with the Salafists and other Muslim groups, they are the principal winners of the Arab revolutions. They believe in a "Turkish model" of Islamic rule, and their speech is well-crafted to avoid scaring away the West. But what kind of policies do they want to introduce? Should political Islam be feared? Abdel Hakim Belhadj, leader of the Islamic al-Watan Party in Libya, has long been on the CIA's radar. In Morocco, radical preacher Sheikh Mohamad Fizazi is enjoying a comeback. And in Syria, insurgents are fighting to introduce Sharia Law. From Libya to Morocco to Syria, this program investigates the new parties jostling for power.

TEDTalks [electronic resource]: Dalia Mogahed - the Attitudes That Sparked Arab Spring

In this TEDTalk, pollster Dalia Mogahed shares surprising data on Egyptian people's attitudes and hopes before the Arab Spring - with a special focus on the role of women in sparking change. Mogahed is the director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.

Human Rights and Islam [electronic resource]

Some Muslim countries have tried to introduce the concept of Islamic Human Rights. The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, provides an overview on the Islamic perspective on human rights, and affirms Islamic law (Shari'ah) as its sole source. This episode looks at the abuses on both sides, including the conflict in Algeria that pits an authoritarian government against an insurgent Islamist movement. Independent producer Susan Mazur goes behind the lines in Kashmir to report on the human rights implications of the prolonged battle for freedom. Producer Ademir Kenovic of SaGA film company records the impression of children in war torn Sarajevo. Also featured is a report on the fight of Muslim women to change their status as second-class citizens.

Beyond King of the Mountain [electronic resource]: Can Democracy Evolve?

Lincoln's phrase, "of the people, by the people, for the people," still sums up widely held notions about democracy. But a growing number of activists, theorists, and leaders feel that in order to fully address the needs and rights of all participants, our existing paradigms of representative government need to change. This film examines challenges that many democratic systems are currently facing and suggests that the future of democracy lies in an inclusive, non-adversarial framework - one which eschews the competitive electoral process. Experts from a variety of political and sociological disciplines share their thoughts on cooperation, planning, diversity, human instinct, and how these relate to the global, egalitarian community they believe is possible.

Philosophy and Politics [electronic resource]

In this program, world-renowned author and professor Bryan Magee and Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford, examine how the explosive issues of the 1960s compelled the reassessment of fundamental political ideas, and discuss the effect of this movement on political philosophy at the universities.

Moyers & Company [electronic resource]: Progressives Pick Up the Pieces

In this edition of Moyers & Company, Bill speaks with historian and author Peter Dreier, who sees the political crisis surrounding the recent government shutdown as filled with possibility for progressives in America-and shares the reasons why he continues to be optimistic, including dynamic grassroots initiatives around the country and, believe it or not, the radical politics of Dr. Seuss. In whimsical books such as Yertle the Turtle and Green Eggs and Ham, the good "doctor" passed along some simple but powerful political philosophy. "The message that Dr. Seuss is sending in his books to young people," says Dreier, "is to stand up to arbitrary authority and take back your own life and be a fighter for justice and for your own integrity.

Niccolò Machiavelli's the Prince [electronic resource]

When Niccolò Machiavelli penned The Prince - a heartless guide to creating and retaining autocratic political power that makes no place for idealism and lofty virtues - he came to be widely regarded as the Devil's servant. Over the centuries, though, The Prince has come to be viewed as a classic text of political theory, a manifesto of bare-knuckles business management, and a significant piece of Renaissance literature. This program, made up of 26 one-to-five-minute segments, combines audio narration and simple animations to provide an easy-to-understand introduction to every chapter of Machiavelli's controversial masterwork.

Russian Revolution in Color: Part 1 Freedom and Hope [electronic resource]

No episode of history illustrates the interplay between violence and radical idealism more clearly than the overthrow of Russia's czar and aristocracy. Using vivid reenactments and colorized archival footage, this program depicts the seizure of power by a political party which, although initially representing a small fraction of the Russian nation, rapidly engulfed it. Viewers learn about the formation of the Red Army and the Cheka, or secret police; the Red Terror Decrees; and Lenin's methods for taking control of the economy. Discussions of the Bolshevik vision of exporting socialism across Europe shed further light on a brand of totalitarianism presaging Hitler's plans for world domination.

Russian Revolution in Color: Part 2 Fear and Paranoia [electronic resource]

Shortly after the establishment of Bolshevik rule in Russia, brewing conflict threatened the party's leadership. This program depicts Lenin's response to those threats through ruthless campaigns against political rivals and foreign forces. Drawing on letters and personal accounts, the film also makes use of dramatic reconstructions and colorized archival footage, portraying the era as those at the vanguard of the revolution would have seen it. Viewers learn about the 1918 assassination attempt against Lenin and the anti-Bolshevik rebellions in Siberia, the Ukraine, Estonia, and the Crimea - as well as the Red Army's methods for crushing those uprisings and imposing a system that would split the world for the next 70 years.

Moyers & Company [electronic resource]: Social Activism 2.0 - How Citizens Are Standing Up for Democracy

American history is rich with stories of social change inspired by the actions of motivated individuals and organized groups. Today's activists are no different - facing long odds against powerful and systemic special interests. In this edition of Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers talks with young but very experienced organizers George Goehl, Ai-Jen Poo, and Sarita Gupta, all involved with a nationwide citizens' initiative called the 99% Spring, which took place the week of April 9, 2012. Organizers aimed to train 100,000 Americans to teach about income inequality in homes, places of worship, campuses, and the streets. The program concludes with a Moyers essay on what citizens can do to find out who's paying for all those political ads running on their local television stations.

Moyers & Company [electronic resource]: Moving Beyond War-a New Vision for America's Global Role

Nine years after Baghdad erupted in "shock and awe," America is hearing once again the drumbeat for war in the Middle East. Now, the bull's-eye is on Iran. But what we need more than a simple change of target is a complete change in perspective, says Andrew Bacevich, a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran-turned-scholar who has become one of the most perceptive observers of America's changing role in the world. In this edition of Moyers & Company, Bacevich explores with Bill Moyers the futility of "endless" wars and provides a reality check on the rhetoric of American exceptionalism. Bacevich also answers the question of whether Iran is a direct threat to America with a definitive "No.

TEDTalks [electronic resource]: Wadah Khanfar - a Historic Moment in the Arab World

As a democratic revolution led by tech-empowered young people sweeps the Arab world, Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares a profoundly optimistic view of what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and beyond - at this powerful moment when people realized they could step out of their houses and ask for change.

Diversity [electronic resource]: Civilization Creates Room for Differences

Are most human societies moving toward a point at which they can accommodate wide disparities in personal belief and culture? Will fundamental disagreement and mutual respect ever reach an equilibrium, and what challenges do the world's manifold religions present in that regard? This program features scholars and authors who offer strategies for bridging cultural differences and abandoning an "us vs. them" social mindset. Interviewees include the liberal Islamic theologian Nasr Abu Zayd, appearing here shortly before his death in 2010; Zainab Al-Suwaiji, co-founder and executive director of the American Islamic Congress as well as a native of Iraq, where she took part in a 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein; Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britain's United Hebrew Congregations [...]

Globalization [electronic resource]: What Is Happening to Us?

Is there a way out of the fear and insecurity created by globalization? If we view the issue in terms of collective psychology, then confidence and cultural openness would seem to go hand in hand, and only a country that lacks self-confidence will shield itself against diversity, multiculturalism, and foreign influences. This program presents the opinions of authors and philosophers who suggest ways for societies to deal with the emotionality and subjectivity of globalization pressures. Commentary comes from Charles Taylor, author of Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity; Ian Buruma, author of Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents; Dominique Moisi, a French thinker whose experiences as the son of a Holocaust survivor informed much of his view of pos [...]

Sense of Belonging [electronic resource]: When Citizens Feel at Home

It would seem to be a universal human goal-creating a society in which all citizens experience belonging, security, freedom, and interconnection. But in reality, some portion of a populace inevitably feels out of place. The question is, is that acceptable? Does the happiness of the "mainstream" trump any assessment of collective harmony, or should civilization be defined in terms of the broadest possible common good? This program searches for answers via interviews with respected philosophers and authors. Commentary comes from Iraqi expatriate Zainab Al-Suwaiji, co-founder of the American Islamic Congress; writer Antjie Krog, whose reporting on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee challenged her nation's conscience; Canadian philosopher and politician Charles Taylor, who [...]

Moyers & Company [electronic resource]: Capitalism and Democracy

In this edition of Moyers Company, former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter dissects the spending on the most expensive election in American history. Many voices are claiming that money didn't matter, and that Citizens United wasn't a factor, but Potter disagrees. "Super PACs just upped the ante," he tells Bill. "If you're a senator and you have just been elected, or heaven forbid you're up in two years, you're thinking 'I don't have time to worry about deficit reduction and the fiscal cliff. I have to raise tens of thousands of dollars every day to have enough money to compete with these new super PACs... And that means I need to be nice to a lot of billionaires who often want something from me in order to find the funding for my campaign.'

After Democracy [electronic resource]

Can the shortcomings of representative democracy - failing political parties, increasing distrust of government - be addressed within the current system, or is it time to explore a new political model? In this program, five top thinkers in political sociology discuss issues in modern democracy. Fareed Zakaria asserts that the West has been unable to impose short-term pain for long-term gain; John Keane points to political innovation in South Africa and India while agreeing that other democracies have many unsolved problems; Hilary Wainwright argues that the powers that control money have taken over government; William J. Dobson says that democracies "show their dirty laundry," but that that is their strength; and Cheng Li offers his perspective on what China's post-communist growth c [...]

Political Philosophy [electronic resource]

Who should lead the world's only superpower? When is it acceptable to topple another country's leader? Are personal freedom and national security mutually incompatible? The answers to urgent political questions such as these are informed by 23 centuries of discourse that started with The Republic. This program focuses successively on the pivotal ideas of Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick to elucidate the thinking that underpins the West's conceptions of good and bad government. Commentary by Ronald Dworkin, of New York University, and Kwame Anthony Appiah, of Princeton University, is featured.
2005; 2004