Revue de Presse: July 13
Welcome to Tocqueville 21’s weekly revue de presse, where we re-cap 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 The Nation, Rosemarie Ho notes that the Democratic Party has been reticent to intervene in the recent pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong, and argues that this silence has had unintended consequences. Ho acknowledges that progressives are perhaps justified in their concerns over interfering in another country’s self-determination, but ultimately concludes that this is a fleeting opportunity to work towards the oft-glamorized “progressive international,” and to prevent a situation where the protesters’ only American allies are the right-wing corporatists who have thus far been the only ones to fill this diplomacy vacuum. For more on the political context of the Hong Kong protests, check out this episode of David Runciman’s podcast Talking Politics, and our own commentary on Hong Kong from Sebastian Veg and Albert Wu.
Anton Jäger’s review of The Populist Radical Left in Europe—an essay collection edited by Giorgios Katsambekis and Alexandros Kioupkiolis—dives into the theoretical implications and issues with the answers the book finds to the big questions of populism: What is it? Where and who does it come from? And why?
In this article for Dissent Magazine, Jacqueline Brandon argues that Ross Perot’s candidacy model marked a rupture in the left-right party structure that we have seen carried into the present day. Her insightful comparisons of Perot’s stances on key issues reveals that Ross Perot not only crossed the left-right boundary in terms of his policy positions, but that his particular brand of populism foreshadowed the populism we see in our own era.
It’s never easy to predict when the controversial novelist Michel Houellebecq will wade into media polemics. This time, the author of Soumission and Sérotonine has taken up the cause of Vincent Lambert in the pages of Le Monde—ultimately a lost cause, since the famous comatose patient passed away within hours of the article’s appearance. Houellebecq may be correct to criticize the prolonged media attention on Lambert’s condition, but the medical opinions he expresses are something less than well-informed. For Houellebecq, there is no need to ever consider ending life support for a patient, since we have morphine to ease the pain—this, the the chain-smoking, alcoholic novelist concludes from his own personal experiences with the drug! Sarah Rozenblum has recently dissected the politics of the Affaire Vincent Lambert on this blog here.
Speaking of novelists weighing in on politics, John Lanchester (whose most recent book is The Wall: A Novel) makes the case for a Universal Basic Income. Lanchester’s piece in the London Review of Books asks if a UBI is closer to the thinking of Thomas More’s Utopia or Frederick Hayek’s libertarianism. He concludes that it’s a bit of both–and gives a helpful short history of UBI debates since the 1970s.
Readers of this blog will not want to miss Sophia Rosenfeld’s discussion of the role of truth in democracy in The Hedgehog Review. As Rosenfeld discussed in our recent forum on her book Democracy and Truth, populist rhetoric understands itself as the real voice of the people’s truth—the counterpart to the insincere and unrepresentative technocratic truth which otherwise controls political discourse—but, Rosenfeld points out, can itself become demagogic when dislodged from a common reality, a shared world.
In this article for The Baffler, Dave Denison dissects the myth of judicial neutrality that shapes the Republican Party’s narrative of the Supreme Court. Denison contends that it does no good to look for apolitical solutions to the inherently politicized problem of court-packing, and discusses a few possible solutions for rectifying a problem that could stand to do decades of lasting damage.
Photo credit: David Yan