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Professor Aurelian Craiutu Explores What Radical Moderation Means and Why It Is Needed Today

In Why Not Moderation? A Letter to Young Radicals, former IHS Distinguished Fellow Aurelian Craiutu, offers the reader an opportunity to rethink moderation through the examination of common misconceptions and discusses why “radical moderation” is important for liberal societies. Professor Craiutu asks the readers to rethink the virtue of moderation and participate in the important public debate on what kind of society they want to live in today.

Prof. Aurelian Craiutu

“The subtitle of my book is Letters to Young Radicals because I want to speak to “radicals” on both sides of the political spectrum, and I want to convince them that moderation also has a radical and rebellious side that is often overlooked or misunderstood.”

– Professor Craiutu

Taking inspiration from Leo Rosten’s A Trumpet for Reason and Lord Chesterfield’s famous letters to his son, Why Not Moderation?, takes on a dialogue in the form of imaginary letters written between one ‘passionate moderate’ and two hypothetical young radicals on both sides of the political spectrum, Lauren from the left, and Rob from the right, who do not believe in the virtues of moderation. Through this dialogue, Professor Craiutu outlines the political vision of moderation and makes a case for the application of what he considers to be the truly radical side of this virtue.

The culmination of this imaginary dialogue offers a series of rules that set the stage for a possible ‘radical moderate movement’ in our contemporary society. Professor Craiutu provides his “Ten Rules for a Radical Moderate”  to convince young radicals of the desirability and possibility of embracing a muscular form of moderation today.

Citing George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as ‘two quintessential moderates,’ Why Not Moderation? also addresses the complexities of moderation by briefly examining the American political tradition. It shows that moderation has always been an essential part of the latter and continues to play a key role in America today.

Why Not Moderation acknowledges that there are many misconceptions about moderation as a movement and philosophy in today’s society. Professor Craiutu challenges these common misconceptions, specifically the perception that moderation is a ‘simple virtue for lukewarm and indecisive minds’ and one that is often perceived as one-dimensional and aligned only with the center

“Moderation is a complex and eclectic virtue with many faces. It’s an archipelago. The way in which we talk about the concept implies that there is one concept, moderation. I’ve come to the firm conclusion based on my work as a historian of political thought, first and foremost, that moderation forms a complex archipelago of these discourses, ideas, tropes, and institutional devices.”

–  Professor Craiutu  

Professor Aurelian Craiutu is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Indiana University Bloomington, and Adjunct Professor in the Lilly Family School of Philanthropic Studies at IUPUI, Indianapolis. He also serves as Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center in Washington, DC.

Why Not Moderation? Letters to Young Radicals will be his fourth book on the subject of moderation and will be available through Cambridge University Press, in October 2023. 

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