Quarterly Essay 87: Uncivil Wars

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In this original, eloquent essay, Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens explore the ethics and politics of public debate – and the threats it now faces.

In a healthy democracy we need the capacity to disagree. Yet Aly and Stephens note a growing tendency to dismiss and exile opponents, to treat them with contempt. This toxic partisanship has been imported from the United States, where it has been corrosive – and a temptation for both left and right. Aly and Stephens analyse some telling examples and look back to heroes of democracy who found a better way

This compelling essay draws on philosophy, literature and history to make an urgent case about the present.