The Cultural Defense of Nations:

A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights

The book addresses one of the greatest challenges facing liberalism today: When is a liberal state justified in restricting immigration in order to protect the majority culture? With more than 250 million immigrants worldwide, this question has become central in academic debates.


This book shifts the focus from the prevailing discussion of cultural minority rights and, for the first time, confronts the topic of cultural rights of majorities. The findings reveal a troubling trend in liberal states, which, ironically, in order to protect liberal values, violate the very same values. The book criticizes this state of affairs and proposes a new liberal approach by which liberal democracies can welcome immigrants without fundamentally changing their cultural heritage, forsaking their liberal traditions, or slipping into extreme nationalism.


The Cultural Defense of Nations presents a timely, thought-provoking thesis on some of the most pressing issues of our time—global immigration, majority groups, and national identity.


"After innumerous theories of minority rights, we finally have a theory of majority rights. The notion may appear paradoxical, but Liav Orgad makes a compelling case that the old assumption that the majority can take care of itself is no longer valid. A young star in the legal profession, Orgad navigates perilous waters with the ease of a sage. This is a book to read for all concerned about the future of liberalism."—Christian Joppke, University of Bern


“In a highly nuanced, empirically-informed, and normatively-scrupulous analysis, Orgad not only highlights one of the major crises facing liberal societies today (and tomorrow), but offers specific and persuasive solutions that, paradoxically, can protect liberal nation-states from some of their increasingly illiberal cultural defenses. This book is destined to be a classic in its field.” —Peter Schuck, Yale

“Minority rights have commonly been promoted by liberals and leftists, majority rights by people on the political right. Liav Orgad challenges this too-simple polarity. He has written a resolutely liberal account, carefully and elegantly argued, of what majorities can and cannot do to defend their culture and way of life." —Michael Walzer, Princeton




The Cultural Defense of Nations is an exceptional work that sounds a timely, provocative and very perceptive alarm about the looming challenges facing liberal democracies across the West . . . Given the importance of those questions and the thoughtfulness of Orgad’s answers to them, policy makers of all sorts should make reading this book a top priority.”—LSE Review of Books


“Orgad’s case is conceptually rock solid . . . [he] has written an impressive book that deserves a place in the canon of analytical legal and political theory.”—Randall Hansen, University of Toronto, Verfassungsblog


“With the current unprecedented levels of migration challenging conventional notions of sovereignty and pluralism, Orgad puts his thumb on one of the most pressing issues of our time.”—Anna Su, University of Toronto, The New Rambler


“Orgad’s work brought original insights to theories on immigration . . . Orgad’s ‘national constitutionalism’ presents promising opportunities.”—Pok Yin S. ChowHuman Rights Law Review


“An excellent and solid work . . . The author offers a new approach to solving one of the most pressing problems of our time.”—A.H. Abashidze, Vice-Chairman of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, RUND Journal of Law


“This is a remarkable book. It makes a significant contribution to work on the management of immigration and diversity, along with the broader discipline of constitutional and liberal theory. It is an instant classic, establishing a clear, yet nuanced, position in the debate about how states are responding - and should respond - to the age of migration.”—Robert Schertzer, Modern Law Review


"A concise and insightful discussion of one of the greatest challenges liberalism is facing today . . . Orgad’s book is an important contribution to questions concerning the ways of protecting liberal values against illiberal influences."—Lukasz Dziedzic, Tilburg Law Review

Press coverage

The book has been reviewed in the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Russia, and Hungary.


“This is an important and timely book . . . It is an intellectual ice-breaker and will, or should, open up new territory for others to explore.”—David GoodhartProspect Magazine


“One of the most significant books published in 2015 . . . it is an important and groundbreaking book that addresses a rarely discussed issue . . . [the book] brings the question of majority rights to the top of the European political agenda . . . challenging.”—Shlomo Avineri, Haaretz

Blogs and online symposium

Book events

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge


Harvard Law School, Cambridge


Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya