The Courage of Our Convictions

The values of a free society are under threat. The time to defend them is now.

The core values of a free society are more imperiled now than they have been at any point since World War II.

The primary threat to liberal democracy is posed by the populist right. From Brasilia to Warsaw and from Delhi to Washington, authoritarian populists are attacking free speech, stoking the ugliest passions of bigots and racists, and concentrating power in their own hands. To safeguard the great cultural and political progress of the past half century, those of us who believe in the values of a free society need to rise to the fight of a lifetime.

At the very moment when it would be most important for those who oppose an emboldened far-right to speak with confidence and conviction, these same values are losing their luster among significant parts of the left. Companies and cultural institutions fire innocent people for imaginary offenses; prominent voices alternate between defending cancel culture and denying its existence; and an astonishing number of academics and journalists proudly proclaim that it is time to abandon values like due process and free speech.

It would be easy, and not altogether wrong, to point the finger of blame for the erosion of democracy at its sworn enemies. But the truth is that part of the reason why these values are vulnerable is that so many of their defenders have themselves fallen short.

Too often, those of us who are committed to a free society lack convincing answers to pressing political questions, including the persistent disparities of race and class. Too often, those of us who seek to defend democracy against its enemies are deeply enmeshed in an establishment that gives people good reason to rebel against it. And too often, those of us who seek to mount a case for philosophically liberal values do so in an overly apologetic or unimaginative way.

This is why I have grown convinced that we need to build a new community of thinkers, activists, and citizens that is committed to defending and reinvigorating the values of a free and fair society. That is the goal of Persuasion.

A remarkable collection of prominent writers, activists, and intellectuals has already pledged to form the core of this community. We will publish regular articles that will help to refine and embolden our commitment to a free society. And we have already planned some amazing events and book clubs that will allow members of this new community to debate the most important issues of the day—and build friendships with other people who are deeply passionate about this cause along the way.

So please join our community if you, too, share our founding values:

  • We seek to build a free society in which all individuals get to pursue a meaningful life irrespective of who they are.

  • We believe in the importance of the social practice of persuasion, and are determined to defend free speech and free inquiry against all its enemies.

  • We seek to persuade, rather than to mock or troll, those who disagree with us.

A free society is worth fighting for. And the best time to start is now.

Persuasion is both a publication and a gathering space. Please sign up now to receive regular articles from me and some of the world’s leading writers directly into your inbox. Even better, become a paying subscriber to gain access to our exciting live events and book clubs.

You can learn more about our articles, podcasts, live events, and book clubs on our about page.

Finally, please take a moment to meet our distinguished Board of Advisors and other members of the team.

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