EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Hannah Arendt on American “Social Slavery”

A few years after fleeing the fascist tidal wave in Europe and finding refuge in New York City, Hannah Arendt penned a letter to her mentor and confidant Karl Jaspers, commenting briefly on the peculiarities of American politics and society. She remarked, “The fundamental contradiction of the country is political freedom coupled with social slavery.”

This simple sentiment, which she affirmed until the day she died, is striking for three reasons. Most obviously, it suggests civil and political freedoms are not sufficient foundations for what we would consider a “good society.” Secondly, Arendt, a German Jew, obviously had no illusions about how low European society had sunk in its flirtation with fascism, but she apparently and rather damningly found the United States comparatively worse than pre-war Europe in terms of societal health. …

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FeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Voting Dangerously: Britain, Europe, and the United States

Back in 2015, the French woke up having to mobilize against the threat of Marine Le Pen’s National Front party, infamously nationalist and anti-immigrant, after its overwhelming victory in the first round of regional elections in 2015. Earlier that year, Poles elected a president endorsed by the Law and Justice party, openly nationalist and xenophobic, leading it to full governmental power as a result the parliamentary elections held several months later. The Austrians barely managed to fend off Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer in the presidential elections held this spring. Most recently, another decision made directly by European citizens in a ballot ended in anti-EU Brexit. At the same time, in the United States Donald Trump is celebrating his popularity as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, …

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