Jan-Werner Mueller gives annual Bismarck Foundation Lecture

Thursday, Apr 8, 2021

Professor of Politics Jan-Werner Mueller presented the annual Otto von Bismarck Foundation lecture on March 31st.   In “Conflict and Cohesion in Contemporary Democracies,” Mueller reminded the audience that the term ‘culture war’ had originated in Bismarck’s time – as a result of the Iron Chancellor’s attack on German Catholics – and posed the question “What kinds of conflicts might improve political life in a democracy and which types are more likely to be destructive?”
Mueller also made the point, following some observations by former LSR fellow Rainer Forst, that cohesion (which, in Germany, is the much-discussed notion of Zusammenhalt) is a normatively dependent concept: in a democracy, conceptions of cohesion, just like understandings of conflict, need to be tied to fundamental democratic principles.  Mueller then specified a number of normative criteria to determine whether institutions and individuals are dealing with conflicts in ways that, ultimately, might strengthen democratic cohesion.
Otto von Bismarck Foundation’s lecture summary and recording.
(Please note: both are in German.)