Why Do We Fight for Social Justice? From Maine Street to Wall Street

On October 11 a standing room only crowd filled the Shepard Lee Lecture Hall at the University of Southern Maine for the latest in MECEP’s Shepard Lee Lecture series honoring the late entrepreneur, civic leader, political advisor and advocate for justice.  The guest speaker was Michael Walzer, (right) Professor Emeritus in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and the Co-editor of Dissent magazineHis topic for the evening was a challenge to the audience in the auditorium and to Mainers and Americans everywhere who are frustrated by the state of our economy and the seeming inability of our leaders in Augusta and Washington to deliver shared prosperity for all.

Are there still reasons to choose the politics of social justice?” Professor Walzer asked. “What keeps us going in the face of so many defeats—in the face of growing inequality, more and more Americans living in poverty, the erosion of the welfare state, an increasingly regressive tax system?”

Professor Walzer noted that he began to prepare his remarks before the Occupy Wall Street movement had gained public attention.

I was going to give a grim answer to (these questions). The power of corporations and banks in Washington, the influence of money in political campaigns; the increasing control of the media by rightwing forces—all this made the chance of a significant popular insurgency seem very small. But politics is always,  thankfully, unpredictable, and I am now going to talk in a more open-ended way than I first intended to do.”

To learn his answers, read Professor Walzer’s entire lecture, click here.

To listen to an interview of Professor Walzer by Irwin Gratz of Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s Morning Edition, click here.