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Waller Newell: The Characteristics of Tyranny

“We will be nothing like the way we are now. It will be like a night and day transformation. And it always does require violence because, as you said, that class or race enemy that stands in the way of future bliss simply has to be gotten rid of.”

On May 31st, Waller Newell, a Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, joined Merion West editor-in-chief emeritus Erich Prince to discuss his book Tyranny and Revolution, which was published last year with Cambridge University Press. In his book, Newell examines how the respective ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger contributed variously to bloodshed, mass murder, and tyranny. As Paul Krause writes in his Merion West review of Tyranny and Revolution, “Newell offers a penetrating close and even sympathetic reading of these philosophers (especially Rousseau). But, in doing so, he also reveals the hate and venom at the core of their beliefs. It was not so much freedom that these men wanted, though they hid behind liberty’s rhetoric. They wanted war with groups of people they regarded as the corrupters of human innocence and happiness.” In their discussion, Professor Newell and Mr. Prince discuss the idea of a given faction in society being viewed as an impediment to realizing utopian visions; how each of these thinkers desired a return to a certain conception of the Greek polis of antiquity; where tyranny is most present in the world today; and the risks of artificial intelligence and enhanced surveillance techniques when they fall into the wrong hands as they pertain to tyranny. 

This interview appears in video form:

Erich J. Prince is the editor-in-chief at Merion West. With a background in journalism and media criticism, he has contributed to newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and The News & Observer, as well as online outlets including Quillette and The Hill. Erich has also spoken at conferences and events on issues related to gangs, crime, and policing. He studied political science at Yale University.

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