Journal of Democracy
The Seymour marTin LipSeT LecTure on Democracy in The WorLD
Jean Bethke Elshtain delivered the fifth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World on 12 November 2008 at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and on November 6 at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. The Lipset Lecture is cosponsored by the National Endowment for Democ- racy and the Munk Centre, with financial support this year from the Canadian Donner Foundation, the Canadian Embassy in Washington, the American Federation of Teachers, the Albert Shanker Institute, and other donors.
Seymour Martin Lipset, who passed away at the end of 2006, was one of the most influential social scientists and scholars of democracy of the past half-century. A frequent contributor to the Journal of De- mocracy and a founding member of its Editorial Board, Lipset taught at Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and George Mason University. He was the author of numerous impor- tant books including Political Man, The First New Nation, The Politics of Unreason, and American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword. He was the only person ever to have served as president of both the American Political Science Association (1979–80) and the American Sociological Association (1992–93).
Lipset’s work covered a wide range of topics: the social conditions of democracy, including economic development and political culture; the origins of socialism, fascism, revolution, protest, prejudice, and extremism; class conflict, structure, and mobility; social cleavages, party systems, and voter alignments; and public opinion and public confidence in institutions. Lipset was a pioneer in the study of compara- tive politics, and no comparison featured as prominently in his work as that between the two great democracies of North America. Thanks to his insightful analysis of Canada in comparison with the United States, most fully elaborated in Continental Divide, he has been dubbed the “Tocqueville of Canada.”
came to lecture at my campus, the renowned evolutionary biologist Sir Julian Huxley, grandson of scientist Thomas Henry Huxley and brother of author Aldous Huxley. Sir Julian proclaimed, in the self-assured way that prognosticators often affect, that by the year 2000 two pernicious phenomena would have vanished into the “dustbin of history”: the first was nationalism, and the second was religion. This can fairly be called a failed prediction. Sir Julian, of course, was not the only one to get it wrong. Many thinkers foresaw a future of cosmopolitanism and secularism in which the hold of nations and faiths upon persons and societies would