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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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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EssaysFeatureIn Depth

A Kurdish Paradox in Turkey’s Wine Country

It is June and I’m in Elazığ, a city of just over a quarter of million in eastern Turkey. Streets bustle with families and packs of young men clutching their tespih or prayer beads. It is a modern city, but at its height in the 1930s and 1940s, Elazığ served as an important administrative center for Turkish Republican rule in the east. In the last sixty-five years however, much of the city’s historical role of governance has evaporated. Hardly a single vestige of the city’s Ottoman or Republican past remains. Elazığ, I am told, has suffered much.

I am picked up from the airport by a colleague of mine, Bora, who knows the city well. He’s jovial and Kurdish, originally from a small village in between Mardin and Diyarkbakır, two large cities to the southeast of where we stand. We get in his car and drive into the countryside. …

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EssaysFeatureIn DepthLiberal Democracy in Question

20th Century European Lessons for a 21st Century Brexit

It seems that June 23rd 2016 has become a new “zero hour” moment in European history, though I doubt it will go down in history as one next to November 9th 1989 or May 8th 1945. Those were system changing dates that eventually rippled around the world and signaled the coming of new eras in international relations history: from the multipolar world, to the bipolar cold war, and to the unipolar moment/era of U.S. supremacy. No, Brexit’s date will most likely join the other not so remembered — but still greatly important — days of European pitfall, which triggered constitutional and foreign relations turning points. 

Three dates/events come to mind: first February 21st 1947, when Great Britain relinquished its Mediterranean and European balance of power role by no longer guaranteeing Greece’s and Turkey’s security. …

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CapitalismEssaysFeatureIn Depth

The Recovery And Its Discontents

The current situation in the United States presents a seeming paradox. On the one hand, the US economy is about to enter its eighth consecutive year of recovery, and in the first months of 2016, the unemployment rate fell below 5%, its lowest level since the beginning of the economic crisis of 2007–2009. On the other hand, there seems to be general discontent about the state of the economy. For example, according to various public opinion polls, the principal concern of voters in this year’s presidential primaries has been “economy/jobs”. This concern has been a main — if not, the main — factor behind upsets in both races.

However, if we look a little closer, the paradox resolves. Figure 1 depicts the path of real GDP from the trough to the peak of each post–World War II economic recovery, at quarterly frequency. …

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EssaysFeatureIn DepthLiberal Democracy in Question

The Promise and Logic of Federations, and The Problem of Their Stability

Historians are right to describe the 19th century as the age of nationalism. While many also depict the 20th as the triumph of the nation-state, with more justice it could be called the century of its failure, despite the vast proliferation of the form. If collapsing empires brought us the first World War, the new problems of the nation state prepared the ground for the second. In our own century, looking around the world, we encounter countless examples of nation-state failure to solve the problem that brought it into being: the management of plurality and the self-determination of different political identities.

Throughout the crises of empires and of nation-states, the option of federal union was ever-present, promising to solve what neither other political form could ultimately deal with. …

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EssaysFeatureIn Depth

The Death Stops Here: The Death and Resurrection of Daniel Berrigan

Fidgety and a little bored in the crammed pews of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, my eight-year-old son waited with us for the service to begin. For distraction and readiness, he etched on his program, with his parents’ help: “Today we reflect on the life of Daniel Berrigan. He was a great priest, prophet, poet and peacemaker. He touched many lives with his actions and words. It is nice to be in such a beautiful church with so many people honoring a man they loved.” Simple and true, these words presaged a ceremony that edified and even transformed the two thousand or so people blessed to have been there. The death on April 30 of the 94-year-old Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J. at a Jesuit infirmary in New York City has been big news. Heartfelt obituaries have poured forth: from fellow priest and political troublemaker John Dear; from the rogue Washington Post columnist Coleman McCarthy, …

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