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The special December issue of The Atlantic focuses on a single theme: “How to Stop a Civil War.” Two contributors to the issue, the Harvard professor Danielle Allen and the staff writer Adam Serwer, join Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg to discuss their arguments in the magazine.

Allen’s piece, “The Road From Serfdom,” asserts that unity must be made a priority again and offers prescriptive steps for how it can be achieved. In “Against Reconciliation,” Serwer argues that the nation’s pursuits of compromise have often led it to abandon its promises of freedom and equality for all its citizens—that Americans have been content to sacrifice civil rights for civil discourse.

The three sat down to discuss where they agree, where they disagree, and how optimistic they are that the world’s oldest democracy can survive its bitter divisions.

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