Left and Right

Aurelian Craiutu On Moderation’s Moment

The political scientist learned a lot from his upbringing in communist Romania.

Aurelian is a political science prof at Indiana University in Bloomington. His two most recent books are A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought and Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes. His forthcoming book is Why Not Moderation?: Letters to Young Radicals. If you think you know what moderation is, Aurelian will surprise you. Not mushy; not vague; not the median: it’s a political temperament and philosophy with its own distinctive heritage. We talk of Raymond Aron and George Orwell, Albert Camus and Michael Oakeshott, Isaiah Berlin and Adam Michnik. And why we need these kinds of thinkers today.

You can listen to the episode right away in the audio player above (or on the right side of the player, click “Listen On” to add the Dishcast feed to your favorite podcast app — though Spotify sadly doesn’t accept the paid feed). For two clips of our convo — on whether the right or left is more of a threat to moderates, and why moderates oppose the notion of salvation — pop over to our YouTube page.

Other topics: Aurelian growing up in communist Romania near Ukraine; his five key principles of moderation; the French philosopher Raymond Aron and his rivalry with Sartre; Camus and Orwell as men of the left whom leftists hated; Isaiah Berlin and pluralism; Tocqueville, Judith Shklar, and Montaigne; relativism vs. skepticism; Keynes, and how liberty and equality are not incompatible; Machiavelli and the role of luck in politics; Oakeshott, politics as the art of improvisation; Adam Michnik’s courage in dark times; Plato on when moderation is not a good thing; MLK’s critique of moderates, Flight 93 elections, the Benedict Option, the cancel culture of the right, Oscar Wilde and the need for relaxed humor in politics. Yes, it was a lot. But we had a lot of fun as well.

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