Can We Square the Circle? Universalism Versus Communitarianism

November 7, 2022

Professor Ivan Serrano, Albert Hirschman Center on Democracy of the Geneva Graduate Institute, and Dr. Emmanuel Dalle Mulle, Complutense University in Madrid, discuss the tensions between universalism and communitarian ideals on the International Horizons podcast.

Ivan Serrano and Emmanuel Dalle Mulle appear on right and left in front of a background of a fence across a beach leading into the sea and an art nouveau era graphic in German dealing with the rights of the proletariat

The political left has long faced tension regarding its universalistic commitments and those to the nation it inhabits. The dilemma is captured succinctly in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen that articulated leftist or progressive devotion to both man in the historic collective sense of human beings, as well as to the fellow members of a particular political community at the time of the French Revolution. That older tension persists at the same time that, today, the left has increasingly become associated with identity politics and such phenomena. So how can the left square this circle between universalism and its own national community?

In this episode of International Horizons, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle and Ivan Serrano, authors of “Universalism within: The tension between universalism and community in progressive ideology,discuss the concept and importance of universalism and how it is closely related to the conception of nation-states, creating a tension of values where the clashes between educated and non-educated translate into right-wing politics. Moreover, they explain the relationship between identity politics and universalism, and how the working class has shifted within politics in Europe and the United States.

International Horizons is part of the New Books Network of academic podcasts. Subscribe to the RSS feed or find it on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A lightly edited transcript follows below. 


John Torpey  00:15

The political left has long faced tension regarding its universalistic commitments and those to the nation it inhabits. The dilemma is captured succinctly in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen that articulated leftist or progressive devotion to both man (in the historic collective sense of human beings) as well as to the fellow members of a particular political community at the time of the French Revolution. That older tension persists at the same time that the Left has increasingly today become associated with identity politics and such phenomena. So how can the Left square this circle between universalism and its own national community? 

John Torpey  01:01

Welcome to International Horizons, a podcast of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies that brings scholarly and diplomatic expertise to bear on our understanding of a wide range of international issues. My name is John Torpey, and I'm director of the Ralph Bunche Institute at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. 

John Torpey  01:21

We're fortunate to have with us today Emmanuel Dalle Mulle who is currently Marie Curie Postdoctoral Researcher at the Complutense University in Madrid, and research fellow at the Albert Hirschman Center on Democracy of the Geneva Graduate Institute. He previously conducted research at the Université Catholique de Louvain, the London School of Economics and Political Science and Boston University, among others. He's published extensively on the entanglements between nationalism, minorities, human rights and the welfare state. His book, The Nationalism of the Rich: Discourses and Strategies of Separatist Parties in Catalonia, Flanders, Northern Italy and Scotland, was published by Routledge in 2017, and it examines how identity and nationalism have influenced the legitimacy of welfare and economic redistribution in Western Europe during the last quarter of the 20th century. 

John Torpey  02:25

He's joined by his co-author on a recent paper addressing the tension between universalism and community in progressive thought, Ivan Serrano Balaguer. Ivan Serrano is associate professor of political science at the Open University of Catalonia (the UOC). He was previously a postgraduate researcher at Queen Mary College of the University of London. He has a PhD in Political Science from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (my pronunciation there is probably pretty shaky, but you're probably familiar with it). He has worked in the intersection between empirical and theoretical aspects of nationalism and territorial politics. And he's a member of TURBA Lab, an interdisciplinary research group combining urban territorial, digital, and environmental studies. Thanks so much for being with us today, Emmanuel Dalle Mulle and Ivan Serrano.

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  03:25

Thank you for having us. 

Ivan Serrano  03:27

Thank you very much. Happy to be here. 

John Torpey  03:29

Great to have you with us. So let's start at what I think of as the beginning of this problem, at least in the modern world. And I've already referred to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. That was the chief manifesto, one might say of the French Revolution, and set out to potentially conflicting sets of commitments, but in my reading didn't really seem to be aware of the tension between universalism and community or nation when they set that document down in words. So what are those sorts of things that the framers did not understand about what they were doing?

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  04:10

Well, I broadly start, since I'm the historian between the two. I think you're right. I think at the time, there was not much of a perception that there was a contradiction between these two terms. And I think we need to keep in mind two factors that can help answer this question. The first is that the reason why the Declaration mentions the man and the citizen is that the mindset, at least of the early revolutionaries, assumed that all men would be citizens of a specific political community that based its legitimacy on the defense of the natural, equal, and universal rights of its members. So, in other words, in a kind of modular fashion, each man will be a member of a political community and each political community will strive to defend the basic rights of its citizens and men. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  05:06

And in this framework, there is not much of a contradiction between the two, especially, precisely, because the legitimacy of the community is based on the defense of those rights. Well, today, we know that there is not so, that there is a tension and there are contradictions, but at the time, also, we need to understand that popular sovereignty was a pretty new thing. And there was little concrete experience of how it would play out in practice. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  05:30

And also, that's the second factor I would stress is that the universalism of these revolutionaries was actually quite limited, even in the community of citizens itself. That is, although the French Revolution introduced a radically new concept of political community based on the equality, their understanding of equality was mediated by all the assumptions about who ought to be equal, and a whole series of groups, man, slaves, populations under colonial domination, the poor, were excluded, or only partially or only temporarily included within the reach of the new revolutionary rights, and especially political rights. So this was contradictory, and excluded groups actually used this contradiction later to claim the expansion of rights. But in many ways, it is not surprising, at least not for historians, because many of the innovations were already so radical that it's also quite normal that some old assumptions somehow lingered on.

John Torpey  06:32

Right. Ivan, any thoughts? 

Ivan Serrano  06:33

Yeah, I would add on the same lines that Emmanuel is emphasizing as an historian, and I would see here two different -- in order to understand and to answer or reflect upon your question, I would say that there are two different aspects that from the academy are needed to take into consideration. The first one is to consider what the actors involved at that time, which were their assumptions, their round rationalizations and arguments and so on. Then we study how they frame, knowing their own intellectual discourse or let's say these political programs.

Ivan Serrano  07:16

And on the other hand is the study from our contemporary perspective of how these processes were developed at that time. In the sense that what we witnessed during the, let's say, 19th century is this development of the modern nation-state, which has been widely studied from many different perspectives, and somehow it's a sort of normative project, even though not always explicitly stated, but it does sort of normative project where we find this sort of conflation between the idea of national belonging and political rights; that the main project, as we've seen backwards from our contemporary perspective is that, knowing the sorts of teleological ways that the nation-state eventually would manage, as the two sides of the coin of political communities: on the one hand, some sense of common belonging to the nation, and on the other hand, this belonging to the nation was associated to a number of rights that citizens enjoyed. 

Ivan Serrano  08:22

And then all the contradictions and tensions emerge here. Going back to the question of what these framers had in mind at that time, this is the sort of recommendation that more and more I'm convinced about is that we shouldn't forget to read the classics by ourselves. This is something that more and more I recommend even my students, "don't follow what I tell you in class, but go straight to the library and pick up the books." And in this sense, I always think of two very relevant thinkers of that time which still have today a strong influence in the way we think: Rousseau on the one hand, and Stuart Mill on the other. And when they were reflecting upon these notions of knowing --in the case of Stuart Mill, talking about the principle of nationality as the founding element of a legitimate government-- and talking about this principle of nationality, I always remember how if you keep following the next sections of his work, after he defends, and he establishes the principle of nationality in the sense that each government should follow the national lines of a territory, he adds that (and I literally have it written down here), "experience proves that it is possible for one nationality to match and to be absorbed in another, and when it was originally an inferior and more backward portion of the Human Rights, these absorption is greatly to its advantage," and he and he goes on. 

Ivan Serrano  10:04

And the same applies to Rousseau, when he talks about the necessity of the common good, and the new and the polity and so on, that he also adds that it's a necessary condition that this community, that this polity develop a nationally educated with a particular legislation that results in the state promoting homogeneous national identity: through education, through common values, and traditions, and so on. And this is a necessary condition for such a politician to succeed. 

Ivan Serrano  10:37

So this makes me think: first of all, and most importantly, that students listening to this podcast, go straight to the sources, and then make your own interpretation of classic thinkers. But the second is that maybe, is the way in which we can read this classical authors from our contemporary times that we assume certain things and maybe, because they were, let's say, an homogeneous group of people, white, well established, affluent people, maybe they share some homogeneous trends, traits in that in a way of working and thinking, but that's what they were more aware about these tensions that we often assume. Maybe it's simply that they didn't want to go very deeply into these elements, because they felt it’s sort of a normative project in mind. 

John Torpey  11:31

Right. Well, it's always a good idea to encourage students to go back to the classics, because that's where so much of this conversation really comes from. And as we talked about the French Revolution, of course, I'm reminded of another classic, which was the immediate response of Edmund Burke, to the universalistic kind of claims and character of the French Revolution. Of course, as you know, he basically said, "well, I've never heard of this man in general, what is that?" You know, "I know about the Englishman and the Frenchman" and whoever else he identified exactly. 

John Torpey  12:06

And I mean, this raises this problem about, for conservatives, it's not really necessarily a problem, it seems to me, or for Burke the whole idea just didn't exist, really. I mean, the only rights anybody had were the rights of the country that granted them rights. And there's a kind of an echo of this in Hannah Arendt later on, right? I mean, there's this notion that she articulates that man is not (or what however, she says exactly, although she used sexist language too), "man is not born equal, he's made equal, or people are made equal by the states under which they live." So maybe you could say a little bit about how that works. And how conservatives, I mean, conservatives today don't really have to deal with universalistic commitments. I mean, to some extent, of course, they do, given the prevalence of human rights ideas in the post-World War II period. But at some level, they make no apology for being basically concerned about the people of their own country. So how does that sort of situation work? What's the distance we've traveled from the French Revolution?

Ivan Serrano  13:26

Actually, it's interesting, how if we focus on this, let's say, traditional scholars that today we associate more with progressive ideas, we should establish them through and we should revisit probably as well these other conservatives that were also witnessing at that time from a different perspective, of course, all these new developments that they were living in. In my own work, I had an interest on Herbert, which is one of the anti-alignment -- what Isaiah Berlin said was the father of the culturalist approach to the nation-- but again, when you read him directly, you can have a better context on which were the problems that they were identifying. And in the sense that probably a new reading of these other intellectual trends more associated to the conservative thought should be also interested beyond the common wisdom, the conventional wisdom we have about this, no? And I think your point here is nicely addressed with revisiting this and playing with them again, with their ideas again, with these classical authors.

John Torpey  14:43

Right, Emmanuel? 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  14:44

Well, if I can add something. Well, first, I think Hannah Arendt like Burke was literally not really agreeing with the idea of natural rights. Hannah Arendt was more skeptical that it will be possible to create a community that extends to the entire world and defend those rights, and she was rather betting on the nation state as the best, although or the least worst option. But, yeah, definitely I agree with you, John, that it is much more difficult for people who have a universalist commitment to try to square the circle between those universalist commitments and far more communitarian commitments. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  14:44

And, I don't really know how to square that circle; if I had the answer, I will probably be rich. But I would say that we have gone a little bit farther than the time of the French Revolution, or even just Burke. I think, my understanding, and I think is that understanding also of quite a few older, especially from the 1990s, there is much more awareness in political philosophy and democratic theory about this tension. I think there is no easy fix, and no architectonic illusion and being open and honest about this tension and the possibility, and actually the fact that probably there is no real way to completely resolve it, we can just try to soothe it and to make it more manageable, I think is the best way to go. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  16:18

And I think the reason why is that so is because equality is an inherently ambiguous concept and creates tensions between different understandings and equally legitimate understandings of equality. So, I mean you need just only to think about, about equality of treatment and equality of outcomes between individual equality and group equality, or even equality and sameness. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  16:45

So, yes, for people that are committed to quality beyond the boundaries of the nation-state, we should be aware of this tension and try not to conveniently sweep it under the carpet. And more concretely, that would probably mean taking up the challenge and try to justify, if possible, the legitimacy of existing banal ways of social closure. For instance, in the paper, we even precisely addressing part of this thing, because we talk about the banal nationalism of the Spanish Socialist Party that both internally in the way it treated Catalan demands for a referendum on severance termination, and externally, for instance, in legitimating, again, in almost mindless ways, the acceptance of tight immigration policies. We address these attempts to not to deal with these issues with this tension, but to actually practically implement it. And yeah, I think this is something that at least scholars should analytically do, and probably normative philosophers address from a normative perspective.

John Torpey  18:00

Right. Interesting. So, we've been focusing basically on this problem at the national or international level, and how people in one country should view themselves, and themselves vis-a-vis the rest of the world, essentially. But, as you know, there's also been a kind of development in recent decades, basically that goes under the term identity politics that has tended to make a progressive (would-be progressive) value of the emphasis on particular groups defined however: gender, race, ethnic, etc, kinds of terms. And, I mean, is that something that we can sort of embrace? Is that a sort of departure from the universalism of the Universal Declaration? Or how do we manage -- I mean, it presents this tension that we've been talking about from an internal perspective, and in American politics, it's having, I would say, very problematic kinds of consequences. And you end up with a situation where the Republicans seem to be the Universalists and I wonder how you would sort of, what you would say about that development?

Ivan Serrano  19:30

Yeah, again, the bad thing from the idea that knowing we had this clear set of solutions, we would be -- I don't know if it reads about maybe more famous than now. Our departing point, and this is why we come up with this label of talking about universalism within, this tension is something that is inherent to the development of these normative projects about universalistic values, because the kind of paradox is that all these universalist values were developed within a certain institution such as the nation state. So, this is not a contradiction as such, but rather the very origin of all the questions we are discussing today: How to expand this set of morally desirable valuables into a larger scale? And the question here arises: are the current existing institutions --this is, basically, the most successful political actor of the last centuries around the world, which is the nation state-- does the development of these values necessarily go hand in hand with this particular institutional artifact that we have developed during the last centuries? Or can we imagine different ways of articulating or better ways of articulating these? 

Ivan Serrano  20:59

Going to the point of identity politics, one of the interesting questions, and Emmanuel said something very relevant, I think, before, which is probably during the 90s, the scholar community discussed extensively about the debate, for instance, between multiculturalism and interculturalism, and so on. And with this sort of emergence, or at least that we have realized or phrased or framed these contemporary political debates around moving the focus towards identity politics. 

Ivan Serrano  21:36

There is a nice paradox here, in the sense that identity politics, one way of seeing is that identity politics appear or emerge when the formal equality of nation states reveals that still exist a lot of disadvantaged groups, people that cannot effectively realize this formal opportunities in the legal framework (and that's  something that we were discussing with Emmanuel the other day), but it seems that this is accompanied with the emergence of another general leg, which is the neoliberal paradigm that we are witnessing during the last 30-40 years. And it seems that this form of identity politics follows the scheme that feeds into the neoliberal narrative, which is particular interests that are articulated, promoted from a stakeholder perspective, from a stakeholder logic. 

Ivan Serrano  22:46

What does it means that, if all interests are articulated from an interest group perspective, the necessary building of a common sense, of a common idea of the public good in the Rosseaunian terms, is somehow abandoned, and then we see more and more fragmentation. By trying to adapt into this ideological and hegemonic environment, it seems that somehow, or sometimes at least, the question of identity politics is reinforcing this sort of paradigm. Maybe this is the trap that we are not able to escape from: let's say, normative reflections. I think that this is one of the points of your questions. And the way you frame the question suggests to me, which is an interesting blind spot that we are not able to identify, and therefore we cannot escape by building some normative desirable alternative.

John Torpey  23:44

Right? I mean, there is this way in which the development of identity politics has seemed to go hand in hand with a kind of abandonment of the working class. Now, there were lots of questions within sort of Marxist traditions, Marxist groups about the likely future of the working class, wasn't really going to be a revolutionary actor and all these kinds of things. But it does seem as though, there has been this kind of bifurcation between these two groups in the United States, but also I think more or less widely through Europe. I mean, Thomas Piketty has kind of developed this notion recently about a kind of Brahmin Left, a situation in which the Left has increasingly become a higher educated group, and if you regard less educated people as working class, then they've gone in a different direction, and it's not just in the United States. 

John Torpey  24:48

So I guess the question is, is there any way to kind of re-stitch that coalition, so to speak? I mean, Sigmar Gabriel, the former Vice Chancellor of Germany, who I just happened to be in an event with, articulated this very same kind of analysis of what's been going on in German and European politics, more generally, and, of course in the United States, and it's become, in a way, the sort of common sense of how we think about what's happened politically in our kinds of societies. And so I guess the question is there any way to sort of square that particular circle and put that coalition back together? 

John Torpey  25:33

In a progressive context, I mean, the Republicans in the United States are, as you may know, increasingly benefiting from the departure of working class whites especially, but increasingly Latinos and even working class Blacks into their party and into their base. So that obviously can't bode well for what's going on on the left. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  25:57

Yeah, and so is the populist, radical Right in Europe. So I mean, I know the European context better than the American one, but the process is very similar in both places. And I also think Piketty is quite right. I mean, Piketty says something that a number of other authors have already observed before, and simply provided new empirical evidence to support the idea. And as you said, precisely that since the 1970s, electoral support from the mainstream Left has shifted from the working class to the so-called social-cultural professional. And the populist radical Right has become the new party of the working class. I would say "working class" in inverted commas because it's not exactly the same working class that was supporting the socialist or social-democratic parties in the 70s; it has undergone massive change. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  26:22

And I think, as you mentioned, also is very important here to remember that the main line of fracture is the level of education. And here I think is important to mention that, yes, the mainstream Left has become the party of the highly educated, but that doesn't translate always into people of middle-class or higher middle-class. I mean, you need to think of precarious postdoctoral researcher or, you know, graduates that come out from the Art Academy that not necessarily all the time have -- although education is a powerful factor shaping a life chances, it doesn't always correlate with higher income. But in general, it is true that the lower educated and also the most poorer, or at least some of the poorer strata of many societies in Europe or North America are now voting massively for the populists in America. Except for ethnic minorities that stand still, so this is another important point to remember. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  27:43

I mean, it is hard to say whether, how we can square their circle. I think, one element to take into account is that it is not just about identity politics for the populist and radical right. What I mean, of course, they mobilize a lot around issues of immigration. But since at least the 2000s, they've also been developing a quite simplistic but very powerful social agenda. I mean, you have certainly heard of welfare chauvinism, and is basically the main platform around which they build their social proposals. And they're basically gathering support. Also, and I will say in great part around the idea that they are going to reserve welfare for the natives, and also jobs for the natives. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  28:40

So in that respect, I think there is a hunch of what could be done. I mean, there is certainly a part of the electorate that is asking for protection from some negative consequence of globalization or further competition financialization. There are a series of processes that have a lot of positive effects, but also some negative effects and probably trying to address those points, which is not easy, because there is not a lot of fiscal space and some of these issues are very difficult to address, but instead of engaging in cultural wars with the with the populace and radical Right, or with part of the Republican Party, I think I'm a promising way is to try to address those anxieties and those economic issues.

Ivan Serrano  29:32

Adding to Emmanuel's comments on the radical Right, an interesting point is how many of these parties are addressing contemporary challenges such as climate change and environment policies. Where they combine the sort of traditionalist view of the environment as something part of the national landscape. And so that part of the foundations of this organic, this conception of the nation so we need to preserve the environment because it's part of our essence as a nation. 

Ivan Serrano  30:03

And this is appropriated by these political movements. And on the other hand, from a progressive perspective, obviously, this is a key challenge to be addressed: all the shortcomings of globalization, of climate change, even digital capitalism, and so on. Then the question is how to revisit or reappropriate these elements from this broader perspective, where maybe the some dynamics now that, as I mentioned before, about identity politics as we can conceive of them are, as we have observed some developments in the last years, maybe in a sort of disadvantage in front of these more simplistic discourses appealing to certain elements.

Ivan Serrano  30:54

Connecting to the questions about Piketty and discourse revision, I think Piketty offers a great compilation of historical data. And this has some obvious advantages in the sense of having a broader picture of big processes, as Charles Tilly would say, this huge process of change. But at the same time, we need to be aware of some of its disadvantages, or we need to be cautious about what consequences we will infer from that, no? 

Ivan Serrano  31:33

First of all, that obviously, he's contributing or confirming many, many topics, as Emmanuel mentioned, about that had been long studied for many years in other fields. And again, a good advice for all of us is to be aware of the contributions in different fields of social science; otherwise we eventually, I always make the joke about this idea, of that economists discovered something that anthropologists or sociologists or political scientists have been discussing during the last three centuries. 

Ivan Serrano  32:10

And and the other point here is that, probably, this big perspective with setting data and focusing on the case of education, another question would be, of course --and this has been also widely discussing in the field of sociology, for instance, or many other fields -- the idea of interpretation of content and the interpretation of education is not the same today as it was in the 1930s or the 1940s, let alone we think about early 20th century, where the difference were between being literate or not and only upper classes received high education. Today, of course, the role of education is completely different, because university degrees are commonly accessed not only by the upper classes, and this connects also with Emmanuel's comments of thinking about, for instance, precarious postdoctoral researchers or young scholars in the early stage of their careers, which is a big problem, of course as we all know, we have in the academia.

Ivan Serrano  33:17

But then this sort of great assumptions, forget some classical discussions, particularly in our field, that this connection between the individual and the community. And of course, there are some tensions which can be seen as inherently part of this debate, because the individual (and you quoted before Hannah Arendt on this topic) it's society is that makes us individuals, and therefore, has some connections with theoretical debate about natural law and so on. 

Ivan Serrano  33:54

But if we do not bear in mind the fact that individuals and their sense of belonging, both legally, let's say, and in the sense of personal identification is a key part of the human condition, individuals need to be, by norm, you need to have this sense of belonging to the political community and this legitimizes a number of collective decisions such as distributive policies and so on. We cannot scale, we cannot square a circle because a circle is a circle and a square is a square. And probably this way of seeing sometimes with big statements from rock stars in the academy, I'm not sure if they have the capacity of focusing the agenda, but I'm not sure that this is something that will be fruitful in the long term. So this is always the same feeling I have when talking about these big names with big discoveries because they have access to a wide set of data.

Ivan Serrano  35:00

In our case, from our perspective, from nationalism studies, I always think about one of the of the references in the field and the famous definition by Benedict Anderson about the nation; he coined that famous term about "imagined communities" in the sense that a nation is an imagined community, because we imagine this is real, this is something real that goes beyond the face to face connections that establish all ways of identifying with a group. 

Ivan Serrano  35:31

But at the same time, this idea, if we keep reading, we also see that it's imagined as inherently limited. And it is. If we connect the idea that nations and nationalism in the development of the nation state, they also add some universal values in their normative projects. But at the same time, we imagine this institution as limited, we can scale it somehow, at least as an experimental thought, how we can scale up all these positive values into a, let's say, global environment without going into the necessity of building or imagining new forms of institutions? So, this sort of elements, I think we should rephrase sometimes the questions we pose to ourselves.

John Torpey  36:28

Got it. So I mean, maybe to wind up, I think part of what's puzzling or paradoxical about the phenomena that we're talking about is that, as you were saying, Ivan, the educated used to be basically the dominant class, and nobody else really, and that's changed very much over time. But nonetheless, I mean, in a way, that's the way the pie is sliced up now, so to speak: the electoral predispositions of the educated, which in the United States is generally referred to as people with a BA and undergraduate degree and versus those who don't, and that they are increasingly becoming sort of mutually unrecognizable to each other. But it's also a phenomenon of the privileged being apparently the progressives. And I think that's a bit puzzling, right? I mean, it's a little bit odd that what now is, in some ways, sort of the dominant class is also, you know, at least understands itself as progressive, and humanistic, and all these kinds of things. And so I wonder how you think that's going to work itself out? And this will have to be our last question, by the way. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  37:55

Okay, well, I would say that if we go back to the idea that Piketty, but also others defended --well Piketty used the expression of the Brahmin Left, but others talk about the social cultural professional -- in any case about the impact of education. I think there, there is a split. So there are graduates more in technical sciences and business management that tend to be much more on the center-right, so liberal conservatives, of course, much less populistic than the radical Right. But they tend to be, let's say, less progressive. So there is still a bifurcation between the highly educated. And but yes, it is true that there is an important part of the highly educated that used to be the let's say the privileged classes are also more conservative, and they are not. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  38:53

In a way some point out, and I think they are correct, that there has always been a part of powerful classes that wanted to some extent to turn society into a more progressive, a more solidary, sorry, a more equal society. Socialist movements were in many cases led by members of the bourgeoisie who wanted to, that were concerned for the plight of the labor classes. So, in that respect, we can really need a process that has just taken another dimension in scale, but it is not as different in many ways. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  39:40

However, what is different and again, I don't know how to square that circle, but it is certainly a fact that a part of what used to be the "working class" (and again, I'm using here inverted commas) is no longer voting for progressive parties. So in that respect, that split didn't used to be there before and now it is. And again, I think, to me, the solution is for parties of the mainstream Left to go back to socio-economic policies rather than trying to mimic populist and radical right parties or even just liberal and conservative parties with their focus on identity. And I think, for instance, in the Democratic Party, some at least have begun to talk about this. 

Emmanuel Dalle Mulle  40:26

I remember reading an op-ed on the economist at the beginning of October by two representatives of the Democratic Party, Ro Khanna, and Zach Whals who where exactly talking about the need for the Democratic Party to address the issues of the industrialized places in America that have been hit hard by the industrialization that we're talking about, for instance, Iowa and Ohio, and try to promote pro-employment policies and investment in infrastructure in these places to try to make those places work again and address the issues of unemployment and the industrialization and economic insecurity that those constituencies are experiencing. So, I would point in that direction. Although I don't see identity politics, or culture wars rather than identity politics, ending anytime soon; they will still be with us for a while.

John Torpey  41:24

I think that's right. But some final words, Ivan? 

Ivan Serrano  41:31

I cannot see how to square this circle, if we use this imaginary. Let's say that my theoretical concern is that probably the external factors explaining which kind of political entities are we heading towards in the near future, I see some elements that these these aspects of reinforcing nationalism, and, let's say, going back to strong and more homogeneous tensions to build not to sustain these political communities are not going to disappear in the next future, particularly thinking about the challenges we are facing as humankind, concerning particularly all the elements referred to climate change, natural resources and all that. And I think for us as scholars, we should focus many of our efforts in seeing how to live with this tension that we call universalism. But this tension between the universal and the and the particular in -- I don't know which ways I don't know how -- but I think we should keep into account that this complexity needs to be faced and needs to be part of our research agenda in the near future, because it's something very challenging, very present for our societies to have some sort of desirable, meaningful end for human beings to develop as such.

John Torpey  43:04

Well, thank you for winding things up with that call to arms, so to speak. Always, I think, a valuable thing to call our attention to these kinds of problems. So I was very glad to come across your work. That's it for today's episode.

John Torpey  43:19

I want to thank Emanuel Dalle Mulle at the Complutense University of Madrid and Ivan Serrano of the Open University of Catalonia for sharing their insights about universalism and community in the modern state. Look for us on the New Books Network and remember to subscribe and rate International Horizons on Spotify and Apple podcasts. I want to thank Oswaldo Mena Aguilar for his technical assistance, as well as to acknowledge Duncan Mackay for sharing his song "International Horizons" as the theme music for the show. This is John Torpey, saying thanks for joining us and look forward to having you with us for the next episode of International Horizons.