Revue de Presse: August 25

25 August 2019

Welcome to Tocqueville 21’s weekly revue de presse, where we recap some of the most thought-provoking articles we’ve seen on democracy and politics in France, the US, and beyond. As always, the articles we relay here do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and interns that put this list together, just what we think is worth reading.


In an article for the New Statesman, David Broder considers the future of Italy’s political landscape. After Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s resignation, right-wing Lega leader Matteo Salvini looks poised not only to become prime minister, but also to take control of the cabinet and force his party’s policies through. Only such an impending crisis could explain the sudden willingness of the Five-Star Movement and Matteo Renzi’s center left bloc to form a hasty alliance.


Authors of a new monograph on the late Foucault and his writings on neoliberalism, Daniel Zamora and Mitchell Dean, explain the importance of this period for understanding both Foucault and contemporary politics in an interview for Les Inrocks. As Zamora—who first helped stir up debates over Foucault’s relationship to neoliberalism with a provocative interview for Jacobin five years ago, followed by a critical volume co-edited with Michael Behrent—puts it now, Foucault’s writing “a à la fois donné une compréhension interne brillante du néolibéralisme, tout en nous désarmant pour le critiquer.” Dean and Zamora’s most recent writing on Foucault is available in English in this essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books.


In an article for Texas Monthly, Neena Satija tells the tragic stories of several indigent defendants, overburdened lawyers, and all-powerful judges in Texas’ criminal justice system. Satija’s account of the problematic system shows just how difficult it is for poor defendants to be fairly represented, and what a few brave lawyers have done to try to fight back.


The historian Jill Lepore speaks with the Talking Politics podcast about the idea of the American “nation.” Who gets to speak for the nation? And why is open patriotism only expressed by citizens hostile to Washington? Lepore argues liberals should be less contrite about invoking a healthy nationalist discourse.


Is our climate change crisis moving us from the Anthropocene into the Eremocene—a new, lonely era characterized by “rapid decline of biodiversity” and self-isolation? In this rousing op-ed for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Robert D. Newman explains why studying ethics and storytelling may be crucial for preserving rapidly diminishing public goods and staving off this impending epoch of human loneliness.


In his review of Erwin Chemerinsky’s book, We the People: A Progressive Reading of the Constitution for the Twenty-First Century, Charles Barzun (writing for the newly re-launched New Rambler Review) takes issue with the author’s generalist approach to interpreting foundational questions of “equality.” While applauding Chemerinsky’s drive to inspire progressives, Barzun suggests that it is disingenuous to turn too heavily towards the spirit of the law while neglecting the letter.


With today’s discourse on partisanship and extremism reaching a fever pitch, it does well to remember that not all rivalries need be destructive and unfruitful. In fact, as François Dosse’s op-ed for Le Monde explores, conflicting points of view can lead to new kinds of ideological synthesis. Using the intellectual clashes of Raymond Aron and Jean-Paul Sartre as case studies, Dosse shows the power of disagreement to propel ideas forward, and to make points of agreement that much more powerful.


Ashifa Kassam’s longform biographical essay on the Canadian Prime Minister tells the story of how a picture-perfect candidate—what she and others call “the first Instagram-era politician”—became so beloved as to inspire “Trudeaumania,” spreading his image and branding across the Internet and the world. As his policies and practices began to fall short of what he promised, however, disillusionment about the PM has spread, and in this Trumpified present Trudeau’s political future is far from certain.


Photo Credit: Burgermac, 2007 News Kiosk Paris, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.


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