EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Thoughts on the Hungarian and Polish New Right in Power

Eviscerating the Constitutional Court and purging the judiciary, complete politicization of the civil service, turning public media into a government mouthpiece, restricting opposition prerogatives in parliament, unilateral wholesale change of the Constitution or plain violation of it, official tolerance and even promotion of racism and bigotry, administrative assertion of traditional gender norms, cultural resurrection of authoritarian traditions, placing loyalty over competence in awarding state posts, surveillance without check — with such policies and more, right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Want to Understand Right-Wing Rage? Go Back to Plato

The rise of right-wing political parties on both sides of the Atlantic has proved almost incomprehensible to mainstream political commentators. How can modern people in an integrated, cosmopolitan world embrace localism, racialism, and tribal identity?

The migrant crisis, and attacks perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, are commonly cited as reasons for right-wing parties’ successes in Europe. Likewise it has been suggested that the right wing in the United States favors protectionist policies in response to lost manufacturing jobs. …

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Arts & DesignFeatureReviews

Ordinary Uncanniness: The Early Photographs of Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus: In the Beginning, an exhibition at The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10021, July 12 through November 27, 2016

Like the painter Francis Bacon and the illustrator Ralph Steadman, Diane Arbus’s photographic art has often been associated with the grotesque, the disconcerting, the alien. Her haunting photos of steely-pale-eyed …

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EssaysFeatureIn DepthLiberal Democracy in Question

Quo Vadis, Poland?

My parents and I arrived from Poland in Tel Aviv a few months before the outbreak of World War II. The rest of our extended family remained in Poland, and none of them survived. Three of my grandparents, my mother’s six sisters and one brother, five of my cousins — all were murdered by the Germans. They were deported to the extermination camps from their various seats of residence — my town of birth Bielsko-Biala, Krakow, Makow-Podhalanski, Warsaw. I have visited Poland many times, and the presence of the Jewish absence in Polish life has constantly accompanied me. Books and articles of mine have been translated into Polish,I have lectured at Warsaw University, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow …

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

The Illiberal International

Stalin, in the first decade of Soviet power, backed the idea of “socialism in one country,” meaning that, until conditions ripened, socialism was for the USSR alone. When Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared, in July 2014, his intention to build an “illiberal democracy,” it was widely assumed that he was creating “illiberalism in one country.” Now, Orbán and Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, and puppet-master of the country’s government (though he holds no office) have proclaimed a counter-revolution aimed at turning the European Union into an illiberal project. …

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CapitalismEssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

Trump or Clinton: The Consequence of Anti-Intellectualism

The Oval Office is up for grabs between Clinton and Trump, and I can’t remember the last time that I, living in a capitalist society, as a consumer, somehow ran out of options. If I can get my beer non-alcoholic and my ice cream fat-free, surely I can get my presidential candidate non-corporate and scandal-free, right?

How did we get here? Trump is a shameless liar with no experience in political office; while Clinton has too much of the wrong kind of experience — for example, promoting fracking and selling arms around the world. We are trapped between Scylla and Charybdis. …

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