Crises of Democracy: Photo Gallery

In October, we hosted our 10th annual conference titled “Crises of Democracy: Thinking in Dark Times.” Over 1000 persons attended, 300 of whom were Bard early college students from Baltimore, Hudson, Manhattan, Newark, New Orleans and Queens, as well as the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Audience of “Crises of Democracy” seen from above in Bard College’s Olin Auditorium (Source: Karl Rabe)
Leon Botstein (Source: Karl Rabe)

Bard President Leon Botstein opened the conference celebrating the virtues of a vital public sphere, and Roger Berkowitz, Academic Director and Founder of the Arendt Center, discussed four prejudices underlying our crises of liberal democracy. During the two days, conference speakers and participants engaged the question: Has liberal representative democracy failed?

Roger Berkowitz presenting his opening remarks (Source: Karl Rabe)

Masha Gessen discussed the trials of political truth in an age of mafia politicians, while AfD member Marc Jongen emphasized the necessity of nationalism to the nation state, and importance of sharing a cultural heritage.

Masha Gessen and moderator Marina van Zuylen during Masha’s Q&A Session (Source: Karl Rabe)
Marc Jongen, answering questions during his Q&A session, with moderator Ian Buruma, and Hannah Arendt Center Director Roger Berkowitz (Source: Karl Rabe)

Occupy Wall St. co-founder Micah White explained why Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and the Women’s March are failed protest movements, as Melvin Rogers, Professor of Politics at Brown University, pointed us back to the past to take refreshment in our shared history, and find a non-theological political faith.

Micah White in discussion with Zephyr Teachout and moderator Uday Mehta (Source: Karl Rabe)

Yascha Mounk, lecturer at Harvard, offered the audience a more traditional, liberal view of democracy while arguing that the crisis of democracy is not retreating anytime soon.

Linda Zerilli in conversation with Bard Professor Walter Russell Mead, moderated by HAC Fellow Shany Mor (Source: Anne Burnett)

The expansive conversation included a heated discussion between Walter Russell Mead, who pushed us to wrestle with the causes of populism in America, and Linda Zerilli, who defended an Arendtian conception of freedom and what it means to act collectively in the public sphere.

James Fishkin presents his talk on Deliberative Democracy and Deliberative Polling (Source: Anne Burnett)

Jim Fishkin took the audience on a journey through his public research project Deliberative Democracy, which tries to connect voters to their policy making by polling representative, random parts of the population. The conference was drawn to a close by acclaimed novelist Teju Cole. Weaving together bits of classical music and images from museum exhibitions, Cole argued that the crisis has already happened, and that we are living in the disaster. He left attendees with a question to consider: “If we survive, who will be left after the disaster?”

Teju Cole closes our two-day conference with a challenging inquiry (Source: Karl Rabe)

Interested in watching the conference? Visit to view every talk and Q&A session from “Crises of Democracy: Thinking in Dark Times.” Following are additional images from throughout the two-days:

Above photos by Anne Burnett. Photos below by Karl Rabe.