Marian Miner Cook
Athenaeum

A distinctive
feature of social and
cultural life at CMC

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - Evening Program
Isaiah Berlin and Leo Strauss:  The Best of Frenemies
Steven B. Smith

Isaiah Berlin and Leo Strauss are generally regarded as holding opposite poles of modern political philosophy. Focusing on their critique of social science, the importance of creative statecraft, and the centrality of political judgment, Steve Smith, professor of political science and of philosophy at Yale, will argue that despite obvious differences there is more common ground than often appears and that, most importantly, each man defended the importance, if not the centrality, of liberty as a cherished human good.

Steven B. Smith is the Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science and professor of philosophy at Yale University where he has taught since 1984. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has served as director of graduate studies in political science, director of the Special Program in the Humanities, and acting chair of Judaic Studies, and from 1996-2011 served as the head of college for Yale’s Branford College. He is also the co-director of Yale’s Center for the Study of Representative Institutions that focuses on the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American world.

His research has focused on the history of political philosophy with special attention to the problem of the ancients and moderns, the relation of religion and politics, and theories of representative government.

His best-known publications include "Hegel’s Critique of Liberalism" (1989), "Spinoza, Liberalism, and Jewish Identity" (1997), "Spinoza’s Book of Life" (2003), "Reading Leo Strauss" (2006), and "The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss" (2009), "Political Philosophy" (2012), and "Modernity and its Discontents" (2016). Most recently, he has co-edited with Joshua Cherniss "The Cambridge Companion to Isaiah Berlin" (2018) and is working on a new book entitled "In Defense of Patriotism."

Smith has received several academic awards and prizes including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize given by Phi Beta Kappa, but is most proud of receiving the Lex Hixon ‘63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences in 2009.

Professor Smith's will deliver the kick-off lecture for the conference on Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts of Liberty" sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World at CMC.

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - Evening Program
The Burmese Exception: Explaining Exits from Military Rule
Zoltan Barany

Why do generals give up their political power? What factors determine their place under the new regime? What challenges do democracy advocates face in the wake of military rule? Following a discussion of these general questions, Zoltan Barany, Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor in the government department at the University of Texas, Austin, will turn to Burma/Myanmar and its unique experience with military rule, which in turn, helps explain the struggles – political, economic, ethno-religious – the country has faced in its transition efforts toward democracy.

Throughout his career, Zoltan Barany, Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor in the government department at the University of Texas, Austin, has centered his research and writing on military politics and democratization globally. His early scholarship was also concerned with ethnopolitics (particularly the Gypsies/Roma) and East European politics more generally.

Barany's current research project, Armies of Arabia, focuses on military politics and effectiveness in the Gulf monarchies. His most recent books, among others, include “How Armies Respond to Revolutions and Why” (Princeton, 2016), “The Soldier and the Changing State: Building Democratic Armies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas” (Princeton, 2012), and, as co-editor, "Is Democracy Exportable?” (Cambridge, 2009) —all have been translated into Arabic. Barany is also the author of “Democratic Breakdown and the Decline of the Russian Military.”  He has published dozens of articles, essays, and monographs in academic and policy journals as well as on the web.

He has held a recurring appointment as a (non-resident) senior associate of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC where his work has concentrated on military issues on the Arabian Peninsula.

Professor Barany’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies.

(Parents Dining Room)

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