Revue de Presse: June 29
Welcome to Tocqueville 21’s second 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. This week, we take a look at the migration debate on both continents, France’s “anti-liberal” left, and more.
Is Macron a centrist or merely a centralizer? In this article for the London Review of Books, Didier Fassin highlights the ways in which the French president has used a polemicized narrative of “progressives vs. nationalists” to claim pretenses to populist governance while bolstering his own executive power and shifting towards a more authoritarian style of government.
One of the issues that Macron’s critics have taken to be a signature example of this authoritarianism is the French government’s treatment of migrants. Most recently, the discussion has focused on the ethics of civilian intervention in matters of migrant distress. This editorial published by Le Monde argues that Europeans have an ethical imperative to help transport migrants across the Mediterranean, taking the example of a German sea captain who defied legal code to ferry a boat of imperiled Libyan migrants safely to the Italian coast.
In the US, though there have also been attempts to prosecute good samaritans at the border, squalid conditions at overcrowded migrant detention centers have been in the headlines, particularly after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to the detention centers as “concentration camps.” In her analysis for The New York Review of Books, Andrea Pitzer argues that the term is apt in this context, providing a detailed history of concentration camps, and warning against the inevitable worsening of conditions in detention centers that lose the attention of the government and the public.
In this interview for The Economist, Michael O’Sullivan explores what global politics might look like in an era after the death of globalization, arguing that the “perfect democracy” of nations has already given way to a world stage dominated by a handful of “leviathan states.”
The Financial Times has been following the ongoing race for the European Commission’s next president, in which the Dutch social democrat Frans Timmermans appears to be the frontrunner.
In an essay for the Spring issue of Dissent, historian Michael Behrent explores Jean-Claude Michéa’s critique of modern-day leftism. Michéa reveals that liberalism, with its focus on moral neutrality and individual preference, is fundamentally tied to capitalism. Following up on this introduction to the French philosopher’s thought, Behrent has more recently published in the same magazine interviews with both Michéa himself and Kévin Boucard-Victoire, a left-wing activist and writer who has been deeply influenced by Michéa’s work. Harrison Stetler’s review of the novels of Édouard Louis for The Point explores similar strains of “anti-liberal” leftism grounded in a notion of working-class common decency as the foundation of a strong democracy. As France-watchers try to tease out the implications of gilets jaunes populism for the country’s politics going forward, this current of thought on the left is worth keeping track of.
L’Express has revealed a surprising guest on the list for this summer’s annual gathering of Medef, the premier organization of French business leaders: Marion Maréchal. While many have called for the former far-right deputy to be disinvited, Medef’s president Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux has insisted that the organization has sought to invite figures from across the political spectrum. Républicain euro-deputy François-Xavier Bellamy will also attend, though it appears invitees from La France insoumise have not responded. Another surprise guest at the Medef event will be Jacline Mouraud, a launched to fame by her viral video addresses in the early days of the gilets jaunes movement.
How has liberalism become the de facto political system for modern democracy? In this reflection for the Hedgehog Review, Rita Koganzon writes on liberalism’s blurred historical definitions and its contentious relationships to religious political structure, working in tandem with the ideas presented in Helena Rosenblatt’s book The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century.