Three months into the Israel-Gaza war, Shadi, Damir, and Sam get philosophical about morality and international relations. Is it realistic to expect states to behave morally? Is the Western concern for human rights real? Or is it merely a mask for self-interest and imperial rule?
The American attitude toward the war has caused Shadi to doubt his conviction in the goodness of American power. Damir thinks he sees an opportunity to drag Shadi to his amoral way of analyzing the world. A familiar tussle follows, with each citing examples from history to make their case.
Is America just another empire, doing what empires always do? Or is it an agent of democracy, prosperity, and moral progress, despite its many failings?
In the full episode (for paying subscribers only), Sam increasingly intervenes in the debate, forcing Shadi (and to a lesser extent Damir) to justify their moral priors. Is democracy good in itself, or does the good come from faith and religion?
Shadi’s growing doubts (Twitter/X).
Damir growing glee at Shadi’s doubts (Twitter/X).
I Saw Satan Fall Like Lighting by René Girard.
Sam’s essay, “Relinquishing Utopia”
Wisdom of Crowds episode with Samuel Moyn
Our now legendary episode with pseudonymous Muslim writer
- ’s essay, “I wanted to love America”
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