Starting this weekend, we’re going to be trying something new on this blog: putting together a weekly collection of some of the most interesting articles, in English and French, that touch on some of the core themes of this blog. The articles we’ll be posting do not necessarily represent the opinions of Tocqueville 21’s writers, but get to the heart of contemporary democratic issues as seen in the politics of France, the United States, and beyond. These collections will be curated by Jacob and Danielle as well as Tocqueville 21’s interns Matt Jackson, Felix Chaoulideer, and Claire Holland. This week, we’ve been reading about right-wing politics in France, democracy and authoritarianism in Egypt, and reflections on individualism and democratic discourse.
Walter Benjamin famously said that fascism is the “introduction of aesthetics into political life,” but the fetish of purism doesn’t necessarily translate into a strong artistic vision. In this feature for The Nation, James McAuley provides a damning profile of Renaud Camus, a once-renowned gay icon in France whose recent stint as an overly posturing reactionary shows that fascist rhetoric is often more pap than poetry. [EN]
In Le Monde, the conservative philosopher and political scientist Philippe Raynaud joins a growing conversation (see also this recent conversation on Du grain à moudre) on the slow decline of France’s right-wing party Les Républicains. According to Raynaud, not only did the party led until recently by Laurent Wauquiez underestimate Emmanuel Macron, but like Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, they also have definitively failed to break out of the new dichotomy between progressistes and populistes/nationalistes. Perhaps even worse for Les Républicains, though, Raynaud writes that they have come to represent a “centrist” position between Macron and Le Pen: a position that may be hard to break out of for the foreseeable future. [FR]
In this article for AOC, Amr Hamzawy provides an in-depth exploration of the factors prompting an institutional and philosophical withering of democratic ideals in Egypt. Hamzawy argues that although seeds of resistance still exist, the government’s extensions of presidential powers and its recasting of citizens as politically ignorant have contributed enormously to the nourishment of autocratic, paternalistic ideals of governance. [FR]
In this article for The Baffler, Miya Tokumitsu dissects the individualistic language of the “self-care” phenomenon, positing that the stresses of competition in a neoliberal economy prompt us to treat systemic anxieties with isolating, asocial salvos. [EN]
In a retrospective on the career of Jürgen Habermas for The Point, With Brexit as his example, the philosopher Raymond Geuss criticizes the Habermasian definition of communication as purely rational, free from power relations, and aimed at moral agreement. Geuss argues that—through this fixation on fictional a priori principles as the structure of social communication—Habermas precludes the possibility for a valuable understanding of political discourse, and therewith the flourishing of democracy.
Photo Credit: besopha, 2009 newsstand Paris, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0.