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Alan Wolfe On ‘Political Evil’

Alan Wolfe is a distinguished professor of political science at Boston College. His previous books and articles, including: “The Future of Liberalism,” and “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern”n seem to put his political impulses squarely in the bluer shades of the American political spectrum.

Still, Slate magazine once called Wolfe, “the sort of social theorist who would rather be plausible than provocative … he hews to a sensible, if unexciting, center.”

Well, in his new book, Wolfe still stands in the center, but now has found reason to provoke. In “Political Evil: What It Is And How To Combat It,” Wolfe points at both the left and the right and their shared propensity to moralize about evil. Think genocide, and terrorism, and the matched rhetoric of “combating evil” that often accompanies the two.

Wolfe advocates another way: Realism. A word that turns the stomachs of both extreme liberals and conservatives. But, when it comes to what he calls political evil, as Wolfe writes, “Politics is, and always will be the best means of dealing with it. We are better off responding to the ‘political’ rather than to the ‘evil’.”

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