Michael Allen

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Mr. Michael Allen has worked as director of external affairs for the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities, a partnership comprising the World Bank, corporations, and the International Youth Foundation. Prior to that, he taught employment law, human-resource management, and labor relations for five years at the Cranfield School of Management in Britain. His fellowship project explored the complex set of relationships among corporations, NGOs, and labor unions in improving working conditions and strengthening civil society in developing economies.[1]

Allen spoke on Europe, the Left and Anti-Americanism at a conference organised by the Social Democrats USA in May 2003:

One of the most depressing aspects of the Iraq episode has been the extent to which the left forgot its own traditions of democratic internationalism. It is critical to confront not only anti-Americanism, but other incipient undemocratic ideas that are taking hold on the left today. I'm thinking partly of the anti-modernist and protectionist impulses that we see in the anti-globalization movement. I'm thinking of the ethical relativism that has disabled the left's response to radical Islam. Finally, it's important that center-left initiatives avoid sectarianism. We need to engage, as the Congress of Cultural Freedom and other initiatives did, with democrats on the right, in the center, on the liberal left. Remember how the Congress for Cultural Freedom brought together Sidney Hook and Raymond Aron and Edward Shils and Isaiah Berlin. We need to make common cause today with those people who may not share all of our philosophies. I think this is particularly the case in countries like France, where there's still a disturbingly strong residue of Marxism and anti-Americanism.
Irving Kristol once said that when intellectuals decide that they need to act, they set up a magazine. Today, of course, whenever anybody wants to have an impact on the real world they start a web site. That could be one important first step. There is a strategic opportunity here, given the circumstances with which we're faced. But there's also a political imperative. For those of us from the left who still identify in some ways with the left, I think there's also a moral imperative.[2]

Allen reviewed Nicholas Guilhot's The Democracy Makers in the inaugural issue of Democratiya.

A continuum from the anti-Stalinist left to current neo-conservatism is insinuated but hardly demonstrated. There is indeed a fascinating story to be told here. One might even imagine some of Guilhot's democracy practitioners jumping at the chance to claim exalted parentage from such celebrated intellectuals as Sidney Hook. Sadly, Guilhot fails to join the dots, other than indicating interpersonal links, using brief pen-portraits of a few individuals – including Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former US Ambassador to the UN, NED president Carl Gershman and political scientists like Seymour Martin Lipset.[3]



Blog: Encounters


  1. Fellowship Programs, Past Fellows, National Endowment for Democracy, accessed 18 May 2008.
  2. May 17 Institute Transcript, Social Democrats USA, accessed 18 May 2008.
  3. Book Review: The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and the Politics of Global Order, by Michael Allen, Democratiya, Summer 2005.