Revue de Presse: July 27
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 who put this list together, just what we think is worth reading.
With the second round of Democratic Party debates just around the corner, Michael Tomasky’s New York Review of Books essay examines how the rules of the primary process have changed since 2016 and how those changes might affect the current presidential hopefuls. Tomasky considers the Democratic voters who are not necessarily represented on Twitter and explores what the so-called “Actual Democrats” are looking for in a frontrunner.
Samuel Moyn also has his eyes on 2020. The Yale historian argues in the New York Times that progressives must stop staring into the Mueller report’s “legalistic haze” and instead focus on defeating Donald Trump at the polls.
Esprit brings together a round-table of French academics to discuss the value of money and what society most prizes. The result is an enormously wide-ranging conversation, from Aristotle to Adam Smith and from Frederich Nietzsche to René Girard.
In the Atlantic, James Parker reflects on the strange life of P.T. Barnum, America’s “original huckster.” Though many of Barnum’s nineteenth-century exploits would be impossible today, Parker wonders if this same love for hyperbole and hoaxes has escaped the circus tent and entered our politics.
Michel Guerrin takes a look at France’s version of outdoor follies, noting that summer festivals have never been more popular. But the editor of Le Monde worries about a “festivalisation” of French culture, as large concerts and corporate sponsorships infiltrate public spaces and crowd out a truly democratic culture.
“The Vietnam War fused white power and anti-communism together,” writes Thomas Meaney in the London Review of Books. Reviewing new works by Kathleen Belew and Kyle Burke, Meaney’s essay, “White Power,” traces the rise of the “paramilitary American right.”
Marking Herman Melville’s two-hundreth birthday, Jill LePore of the New Yorker provides a history of the author’s eccentric, often tragic life at Arrowhead farm. Although we naturally associate Melville with the sea, it was at Arrowhead that he composed Moby-Dick, arguably the leading contender for the “great American novel.”
“Studying eternal truths does not give us license to ignore present realities when those realities also have histories that can help us understand them.” So Leslie W. Lewis concludes her poignant and staggeringly personal essay in the Hedgehog Review, where she argues for a canon-driven liberal arts education capable of acknowledging its own blind spots.
Photo credit: Anna Dziubinska via Unsplash, “London Underground Atrium,” CC BY 4.0