Majorities Have Rights, Too

May 24, 2016 | Anna Su
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While liberal democracy, especially in its American form, is designed to follow the will of the majority while protecting the rights of minorities, Liav Orgad’s book The Cultural Defense of Nations argues that majorities themselves have particular rights that need protection—especially when immigration and demographic change threaten to undermine or replace national culture and values. Anna Su writes in her review:

[In shaping the U.S. Constitution, James] Madison assumed that . . . the majority can take care of itself, while the structure of government would ensure . . . that minority rights are not disregarded. In his timely and erudite [book], the Israeli legal scholar Liav Orgad flips that idea on its head and argues that majority groups under certain conditions also need protection. Their identity, history, government, and way of life need defending. And this need is most pressing when immigration renders their numerical superiority less salient. . . . Provocatively, Orgad justifies [his argument] on the same liberal grounds of the right to self-determination and right to culture [and] identity [on which minority rights are founded].

Why [the need to] play defense now? The first three chapters of Cultural Defense survey the landscape of changing migration patterns and chronicle the corresponding demographic as well as cultural anxieties . . . besetting countries in Western Europe, the United States, and Israel. . . .

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