EssaysFeatureIn DepthThe Left

Antifascism as Political Passion in the Life of Cristina Luca

Far-left politics and radical universalism (including its Stalinist variant) seduced countless intellectuals during the twentieth century. Yet, this absorbing subject still needs to be deciphered and recalled. In a similar vein, the topic of apostasy, that is to say, the awakening to what Immanuel Kant once called “dogmatic slumber,” …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

For Ressentiment: An Alternative to Trumpism

Donald Trump’s campaign of anger may have jumped the shark this past week, and I am afraid that may lead my friends on the Left (whether you like Bernie, Jill, or Hillary) to mistake the lessons of this electoral cycle. It is tempting to believe that the collapsing Trump campaign signals something larger, a triumph of optimism over fear, but that is precisely the lesson we should not draw. Trump’s successes draw on the well of despair and rage in the American voter, but his failure would not mean that despair and rage have lost their political salience. It is high time we on the Left learned to embrace instead of reject ressentiment — the feeling of impotence that leads to anger directed against enemies we blame for our suffering — as a means of mobilizing voters. Ressentiment is a potent political weapon, as Friedrich Nietzsche knew so well, but for the last forty years it has been almost the exclusive provenance of the Right. …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

How the Sanders Agenda Can Move Forward in a Hillary Presidency

Everyday political discourse commonly reduces the significance of elections to individual personalities: one candidate wins, another candidate loses. In legislative elections, this way of assessing an election is perfectly legitimate.

Matters are more complicated, however, when considering executive branch elections, whether at the mayor, governor or presidential level. The executive branch itself is a large army of people: administrators, program managers, analysts, researchers and all the other people who do the everyday work of government, and who turn broad policy priorities into concrete action steps.  …

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EssaysEventsFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Pre-Coup, Coup and the Media Intellectuals in Turkey

There are many unknowns about the July 15th coup d’état attempt in Turkey. Putschists, instead of taking down the leadership or shutting down communication, ineffectually closed off some roads, attacked government buildings including the Parliament, and killed many innocent civilians without clear operational objectives. The level of confusion and disorder among soldiers was mind boggling. It is hard to believe that these putschists were part of the “one of the most powerful NATO armies.” The sloppiness of this military operation raises a lot of questions; who gave the orders? What was the network diagram of this operation? Did they have a plan B? What was going to happen if the coup was successful? Who are the political collaborators? Even after two weeks, none of this is evident. …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Are EU Exit Referenda Good for Democracy?

Referenda are important instruments of democratic politics. They have been used since the late eighteenth century in various circumstances of political life, most often in relation to constitutional change or issues of self-determination. In contemporary democratic societies, there is pressure to submit contested political questions to popular vote, in order to reduce tensions between popular will and governance. Even democratic governments which are not constitutionally obliged to do so now feel compelled to consult the people directly. 

Brexit, the UK’s referendum on whether to stay in the EU, reflects this tendency. It is not the first referendum on EU matters. And yet, there is novelty here: the people were deciding directly whether to leave an organization of democratic states, …

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