Revue de Presse: August 4
Welcome to Tocqueville 21’s weekly revue de presse—now appearing on Sundays—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 Dissent’s latest issue, devoted to the question, “What is the nation for?”, Quinn Slobodian and William Callison offer a biting critique of the left-wing populism of Germany’s Aufstehen movement, led by Sahra Wagenknecht (see some of our discussion of Wagenknecht’s “left nationalism” here). Though the movement claims to represent the voice of working-class Germans, opposed to both rule by bankers and open-borders migration, the authors point out that its organization more closely resembles a political start-up than an authentic grassroots mobilization.
In a time where the specter of socialism looms large in fear-mongering tweets from the president himself, it is worth remembering the role that this revolutionary ideology played in shaping American ideals. In her insightful piece for the Washington Post, Gillian Brockell connects Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln as kindred spirits as well as contemporaries, highlighting the influence that Marx’s writings had on the emancipation of slavery in America.
Peoria, Illinois has long occupied the American imagination as the quintessential hum-drum “everytown,” often serving as a shorthand for bland Midwestern culture. But is this accurate? In her essay for Laphams Quarterly, Bridey Heing gives a history of Peoria’s more complicated and colorful past. Political pundits practice of wondering “if it will play in Peoria” may add to willful ignorance of what the American everyman looks like today.
The rural-urban divide motivating stereotypes about places like Peoria is the subject of Michael Goebel’s analysis in Aeon. Goebel is interested in the way scholars talk about city life, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the present. He argues that although more than half of the world’s population live in cities, recent historians have not demonstrated an appropriate interest in urbanization. Sociologists and urban theorists offer valuable contributions, but without the active input of historians, globalization will further erode our sense of time and place.
In The Philosopher, political theorist and Tocqueville 21 contributor Hugo Drochon addresses the appropriation of Nietzsche by the Alt-Right. Richard Spencer, one of the most prominent spokesman for the American Alt-Right, claims he was “awoken” by Nietzsche. Yet Drochon argues that this is just another iteration of the many (often racist and fascist) misinterpretations of Nietzsche. The mark of Spencer’s deep misunderstanding, Drochon points out, is that his vision for the future is actually one of the past; he has failed to understand the significance of Nietzsche’s famous phrase, “God is dead.”
For Rich Baum, however, a healthier politics begins with acknowledging that God is not dead. Writing in The Point, Baum offers a close-reading of the biblical Book of Amos and its prophetic voice against all those who forget the poor. Baum argues that a rights-based politics can only get us so far; some of the most effective politicians, from Sojourner Truth to Martin Luther King, Jr., have cultivated a “prophetic mindset.”
Masha Green’s comparison between Donald Trump’s rhetoric and national belonging in Nazi Germany points to some alarming parallels. Her New Yorker piece contends that Trump’s exclusionary language monopolizes categories of citizenship in a manner that is not unlike the xenophobia of the National Socialists.
In Le Monde, Tocqueville 21 contributor Sarah Rozenblum explains what’s at stake in the fight over healthcare in both the 2020 election race, and legal battles in federal court.
The New York Times reports on the final issue of Minnesota’s Warroad Pioneer in its piece the “Dying Gasp of One Local Newspaper.” Like many small-town papers, Warroad’s weekly closed because cost restraints. Its employees reflect on the disappearance of local journalism.
Photo Credit: Marta, Presse, via Flickr.