Open Society’s New Enemies and the Future of Europe
Open society was Karl Popper’s vision of the kind of free society Europe should build from the ruins after 1945. It was a vision built around a particular idea of scientific truth and around an idea of liberal politics as ‘piecemeal social engineering’. The open society—open to ideas, to innovation, to strangers and to the future—was and is an attractive ideal, but new enemies assail it everywhere: nationalism, authoritarianism, racism and the new political technologies of the big lie. In the Schuman lecture, Michael Ignatieff, writer, historian, former politician and now President of CEU, Budapest, reflects on the open society ideal and what needs to be done—and believed—in order to save it in Europe.
Michael Ignatieff is a university professor, writer and former politician.
His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998), The Rights Revolution (2000), Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013), and The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (2017).
Between 2006 and 2011, he served as an MP in the Parliament of Canada and then as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition. He is a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and holds eleven honorary degrees.
Between 2012 and 2015, he served as Centennial Chair at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York.
Between 2014 and 2016, he was the Edward R. Murrow Professor of the Practice of the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He is currently the Rector and President of Central European University in Budapest.