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Revue de Presse: October 25

2 days ago

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For the past several weeks, Charlie Hebdo columnist and novelist Yannick Haenel, together with the cartoonist François Boucq, has been chronicling the trials of alleged accomplices of the 2015 attackers against the newspaper and other targets. It’s worth quoting at length his words in response to the brutal killing of schoolteacher Samuel Paty:
To kill a teacher because he attempts to think with his students; to kill him because he attempts to explain, like all teachers do; to kill him because he does not think like you do; this is not only an abomination, but an attack against schooling itself, against the very idea of education, against the act of speech, against the act of asking someone what she thinks. This is an

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WELL-BEING / BIEN-ÊTRE CONFERENCE : 21-22 OCT

13 days ago

See below for information on an upcoming conference. Registration information can be found here.

Well Being/Bien-être
On-line conference organised by the The Tocqueville Society/La Société Tocqueville and The Center for Critical Democracy Studies at The American University of Paris 
October 21-22, 2020
In his Democracy in America (volume 2, 1840), Tocqueville makes the passion for well-being  a consequence of equality. When “ranks are mingled and privileges destroyed, when patrimonies divide and enlightenment and liberty spread, the desire to gain well-being occurs  to the imagination of the poor, and the fear of losing it to the mind of the rich.” (Vol. II, Part  2, Chapter 10). Tocqueville paints a bleak picture of a constant threat within democratic  society, in which we are alienated

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Revue de Presse: 11 octobre

16 days ago

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Si Alexis de Tocqueville rendait à nouveau visite aux Etats-Unis aujourd’hui, il serait inquiet pour le sort de leur démocratie, avancent Aurelian Craiutu, contributeur à La revue Tocqueville, et Sheldon Gellar. Dans leur article pour le Institute of Intellectual History, ils jugent que l’inégalité des conditions et la polarisation politique auraient particulièrement inquiété Tocqueville. Mais malgré le fait que l’Amérique d’aujourd’hui ait beaucoup en commun avec l’Amérique à la veille de sa guerre civile, il est toujours possible d’éviter la catastrophe.

Pour Sarah Rozenblum, chercheuse en santé publique et contributrice au blog Tocqueville 21, la nomination d’Amy Coney Barrett à la Cour suprême des Etats-Unis

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Revue de Presse: September 27

September 27, 2020

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In a review for the Point, Scott Spillman discusses Men on Horseback by the Princeton historian David Bell. Bell’s book is a study in the modern phenomenon of charisma, which Max Weber called “the great revolutionary force.” Applying Weber’s definition of charismatic authority to the Age of Revolutions, Bell examines the relationship between democracy and individual celebrity in characters like Napoleon and Toussaint Louverture. For Spillman, Bell’s study confirms Hannah Arendt’s insight that passions like love often overshadow the political role of persuasion. The larger-than-life political leader is often tempted to lay speech and negotiation to one side. Spillman says the most compelling—but perhaps rarest—character

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Revue de Presse: July 26

July 26, 2020

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H-Diplo brings together a roundtable featuring four reviews of Iain Stewart’s book, Raymond Aron and Liberal Thought in the Twentieth Century. Aron is often characterized as a “Cold War liberal,” but Stewart adds nuance to this label by reading Aron’s oeuvre though the lens of “liberalism” in general and the French liberal tradition in particular. Joshua L. Cherniss praises Stewart’s distinction between “Cold War liberalism” and the later, more triumphant neoliberalism. Sophie Marcotte-Chénard notes Stewart’s command of the French interwar and postwar period, as well as Stewart’s recovery of Aron’s sustained interest in illiberal strands of German intellectual thought.

In the Atlantic, Rachel Donadio summarizes how the

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Revue de Presse: 12 juillet

July 12, 2020

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La course au vaccin Covid-19 engendre-t-elle un nationalisme malsain ? Dans un article pour Politico, Elizabeth Ralph explore la manière dont les scientifiques en Allemagne, en Chine, au Royaume-Uni, en France et aux États-Unis gèrent la pression politique qui les pousse à développer un vaccin efficace. Donald Trump veut que l’Amérique championne le « projet de vaccin le plus agressif de l’histoire », tandis qu’Emmanuel Macron vante le « génie de Louis Pasteur » et décrit la France comme « un grand pays de vaccin ». Ralph nous fournit le contexte historique pour une situation qui commence à évoquer les compétitions scientifiques de la guerre froide.

Face à la crise sanitaire, il n’y a ni retour, ni revanche de l’État,

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Revue de Presse: June 28

June 28, 2020

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The latest issue of The Point asks, “What is the Nation For?” Tom Meany’s response? It depends. Throughout history, the idea of the “nation” has confronted sovereign power, international economic competition, and minority populations alike, while some of the most fervent “nationalists” have also been prolific actors on the global stage. In the twentieth century, the global Left—socialist, communist, or decolonial—often attempted to harness nationalist aspirations to further its causes. Today, the Left tends to equate nationalism with reactionary politics. Yet as the contemporary Right embraces nationalism, liberal nationalists seek to reclaim it for more “progressive” ends, mistakenly believing that national feelings can be

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Revue de Presse: 14 juin

June 14, 2020

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De simples réformes cosmétiques concernant les méthodes et la légitimité de la police aux États-Unis ne pourront jamais faire face à l’ampleur du problème de la violence policière, selon Jocelyn Simonson. Dans un article pour la Boston Review, elle explique qu’il faudra une redistribution transformative du pouvoir entre la police et les communautés qu’elle est censée servir. Mais il ne sera pas suffisant que des technocrates développent et appliquent de nouvelles mesures pour quantifier le pouvoir. Au contraire, il faut réinventer démocratiquement ce que nous entendons par la « sécurité publique ».

Avec la resurgence du mouvement contre les violences policières aux Etats-Unis et autour du monde, les médias françaises

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Revue de Presse: May 31

May 31, 2020

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Marilynne Robinson fears Americans are plagued by a sense of scarcity. Her latest piece in the New York Review of Books asks if Americans used to be more optimistic because they were less prone to zero-sum thinking. Economic frameworks dominate not just markets and politics but also US universities. Ironically, Americans pride themselves on their entrepreneurialism—but they need a French word to describe their independent streak. Robinson insists there’s more to the American experiment than cost-benefit analysis, and she argues we must use the current COVID-19 crisis to take stock of the country’s culture.

In the TLS, Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews The Fire is Upon Us by Nicholas Buccola. The book centers around the infamous

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Revue de Presse: 17 mai

May 17, 2020

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La Poste est immortalisée dans le premier article de la Constitution américaine, et Tocqueville a même parcouru une partie de son voyage à travers l’Amérique dans une calèche postale. Mais la Poste ne fait que perdre de l’argent depuis quinze ans, et le coronavirus a encore détérioré sa situation financière. Casey Cep, fille d’un facteur rural, soutient dans le New Yorker qu’il faut traiter la Poste comme un service essentiel—un service qui mérite un renflouement du Congrès. Cep nous rappelle qu’en plus de la livraison du courrier, la Poste pourrait augmenter ses revenus en délivrant des permis de conduire ou de pêche, en facilitant les opérations bancaires simples, en fournissant du haut débit et en offrant des signatures de

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Revue de Presse: May 2

May 3, 2020

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Does Joe Biden have a political ideology? Bernie Sanders has been likened to European socialists, while Donald Trump has similarities with Europe’s populist right. But, when it comes to Biden, Carlo Invernizzi Accetti wonders whether Biden might be an American incarnation of Christian democracy. In a piece for Foreign Policy, Invernizzi Accetti notes that Biden’s message, unlike recent Democrats, is not one of technocratic social progress. Instead, if Biden stands for anything, it’s the relatively conservative goal of restoring civility and unity. Invernizzi Accetti’s assessment is perhaps an optimistic one: if Biden is anything like the Christian democrats of postwar Europe, perhaps he too will preside over the construction

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Revue de Presse: 19 avril

April 19, 2020

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La présente pandémie n’est pas une crise pour l’Inde—au contraire, elle représente trois crises distinctes mais interconnectées, selon Mathieu Ferry, Govindan Venkatasubramanian, Isabelle Guérin et Marine Al Dahdah. D’abord, la crise sanitaire : les ressources publiques (ventilateurs, lits d’hôpitaux, etc.) sont insuffisantes pour faire face aux obstacles, alors que le traitement privé est hors de portée de tous excepté les plus riches. En deuxième lieu, le confinement a mis une fin aux emprunts, source critique d’argent liquide pour la majorité de la population. En troisième lieu, face à cette pénurie d’espèces et aux pertes d’emploi, beaucoup ne mourront pas du coronavirus, mais de faim. L’aide promise par le gouvernement

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Revue de Presse: April 5

April 5, 2020

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As William Davies declares in the London Review of Books, “we are all Durkheimians now.” In the age of Covid-19, we are all looking to averages and aggregates to distill what Émile Durkheim called the “social fact” of society. But what kind of society are we prepared to defend with this data? Our local community? The state? Economic networks? Internet connectivity? Davies thinks we’re more unsure than ever.

As everyone obsesses over Covid-19 data, it’s hard to avoid forms of cost-benefit analysis, or the weighing of public health against the economic fallout. In the TLS, moral philosopher Regina Rini points out that epidemiologists (not just economists or politicians) often “think in implicitly utilitarian ways.” Yet Regi

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Revue de Presse : 22 mars

March 22, 2020

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Le coronavirus est-il la fin de la mondialisation ? C’est la question à laquelle s’adressent Henry Farrell et Abraham Newman dans Foreign Affairs. Dans l’économie mondialisée, grâce aux chaînes logistiques conçues pour fournir des pièces essentielles à la dernière minute (just in time), les entreprises n’ont pas besoin de garder des réserves. La crise sanitaire actuelle ayant brusquement arrêté ces chaînes, de nombreux pays se retrouvent face aux pénuries de produits médicaux et d’autres nécessités. L’ère de la coopération économique internationale, du doux commerce célébrée depuis les années 1990, est elle en train de se terminer ? Ou bien, verrons nous une deuxième mondialisation, marquée par une conflictualité prononcée,

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Revue de Presse: March 1

March 1, 2020

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Thomas Piketty’s latest book, Capital and Ideology, appears in English this month, and the press will no doubt have more to say about Piketty’s call for a 90 percent inheritance tax and his proposals for “participatory socialism.” But for William Davies, Piketty’s book represents “an astonishing experiment in social science.” Writing for the Guardian, Davies insists that Piketty is no Marxist, even if his sweeping historical scope has a certain resemblance to the French Annales School. Instead, Davies reads Piketty as a “liberal reformer,” convinced that statistical knowledge of global inequality will force a democratic reckoning. To read more about Capital and Ideology, check out our Tocqueville21 interview with Piketty

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Revue de Presse : 16 février

February 16, 2020

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Le Pacte vert d’Ursula Von der Leyen n’est rien qu’un éco-blanchiment, écrivent Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler dans un article pour The Guardian. Les sommes sont insuffisantes. L’importance du capital privé pour exécuter le plan ne fera qu’augmenter les inégalités en Europe. Et finalement, les résultats seront limités par un refus d’en finir avec l’austérité. On voit bien quelles sont les priorités de l’Europe, qui a dépensé quatre fois plus d’argent pour sauver les banques après la crise financière qu’elle n’est prête à déverser pour sauver la planète.

Critiquer la croissance économique n’est plus une position extrême, écrit John Cassidy dans un article pour The New Yorker. D’un point de vue environnemental, la

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Revue de Press: February 2

February 2, 2020

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Whatever you believe, you’re probably wrong about inequality. At least that’s what Jonathan Rothwell thinks. In an article for Foreign Policy, he argues that globalization and corporations are not to blame for the astronomical levels of inequality in the United States. Nor is inequality the natural product of innovation and competition. Rather, inequality is the result of unequal political power. Specifically, high-paying service providers have created monopolies through associations like the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association. These  organizations use their outsized political power to out-regulate the competition, setting up barriers to entry and exacting exorbitant fees. According to Rothwell,

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Revue de Presse : 19 janvier

January 19, 2020

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La revue Dissent consacre son dernier numéro à la question de « la démocratie et le barbarisme », réinterprétant la fameuse phrase de Rosa Luxembourg (« socialisme ou barbarisme ») à l’âge des néo-nationalismes et des catastrophes climatiques. Editeur de ce numéro spécial, le juriste écologiste Jedediah Purdy définit le barbarisme comme « un système qui transforme des gens en ennemis et oppresseurs les uns des autres … qui les plonge dans l’obscurité et qui leur en donne aucune issue ». Les articles suivant s’interrogent sur comment les Américains pourraient mobiliser la politique démocratique pour reprendre le pouvoir (Bill Fletcher, Jr.), articuler une écologie politique démocratique (J. Purdy et Alyssa Battistoni), et

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Revue de Presse: January 5

January 5, 2020

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Writing for the Age of Revolutions, Blake Smith returns to Emile Durkeim’s famous argument that the French Revolution displayed a religious “effervescence.” With Durkheim in mind, Smith revisits historian Lynn Hunt’s 1989 article “The Sacred and the French Revolution.” Hunt’s emphasis on the religious element of the Revolution, Smith argues, offered an important alternative to both Marxist interpretations and François Furet’s critique of class-driven historiography.  

The effects of 1789 extended well beyond France and Western Europe, and more and more historians recognize the importance of the Haitian Revolution. In the New York Review of Books, David Bell highlights some recent scholarship on the revolt in

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Revue de Presse: 15 décembre

December 15, 2019

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Emmanuel Macron se veut un président « progressiste » et « modernisateur ». Dans un entretien pour l’Atlantico, Luc Rouban et David Sessions (qui a écrit pour Tocqueville 21 sur l’oeuvre d’Alain Touraine) explique les origines de ce discours dans la théorie de la modernisation typique de la période d’après-guerre. Cette théorie va de pair avec la technocratie, soit keynésienne, soit néolibérale. Dès les années 1950, les penseurs « modernisateurs » français s’imagine que leur pays ait du « retard » par rapport au Royaume-Uni ou les Etats-Unis, et leurs projets de réformes risquent d’inspirer des réactions « populistes ».

Avec la mondialisation, les révolutions technologiques, et le pouvoir des multinationales, l’on ne

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Revue de Presse: December 1

December 1, 2019

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The crisis of liberalism lies in its inability to explain modern phenomena, Katrina Forrester argues in The Guardian. Attempting to understand the turbulent politics of recent years, liberals often point to a decline in norms and civility. Meanwhile, their calls for a more civilized politics often lead to little but a shrinking voting base for liberal parties. For Forrester, what is needed today is less a “revival” of liberalism than a new conception of it capable of reckoning with the fundamental ideological, social, and economic that has given us the likes of Brexit and Trump.

Meanwhile, with Brexit looming overhead, British voters have a choice between “Johnson plus Brexit” and “Corbyn plus two referendums” (i.e.,

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Revue de Presse: November 17

November 16, 2019

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Bienvenue à notre première Revue de Presse 100% en français. Comme d’habitude, nous avons sélectionné des articles de la presse francophone et anglophone sur la politique et la culture démocratique autour du monde. Ces articles ne sont pas censés former une liste complète de ce qu’il faut avoir lu, ni une représentation de l’opinion des éditeurs du site : seulement une sélection de ce que nous lisions ces deux dernières semaines.

Au long de ses presque deux siècles d’existence, le magazine britannique The Economist a toujours été un organe de presse indispensable pour le libéralisme économique international. Dans une recension pour le New Yorker d’une récente histoire du Economist par Alexander Zevin, Pankaj Mishra

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Revue de Presse: November 3

November 2, 2019

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We’ve taken a break from this format for a few weeks, but we’re back with some of our favorite writing from the month of October. Going forward, we will be resuming the Revue de Presse every other week, which we hope will not only help provide a bit more distance from the day-to-day news cycle, but also give us more time to meet our new goal of doing the Revue in both English and French. So we’ll see you back in two weeks for our first Revue de Presse 100% en français !

Gabriel Zucman is the latest French economist to lead the charge against inequality in the United States. The 32-year-old professor of economics at Berkeley—a former student and now-colleague of Thomas Piketty—recently published a book on taxing the rich

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Revue de Presse: September 29

September 29, 2019

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With the passing of former French president Jacques Chirac, newspapers have struggled to pin down the man’s complex legacy. Le Monde highlights Chirac’s affable demeanor and his connection with French nationality and culture, others have been far more critical of the late head of state. The Washington Post remembers what will surely be thought of as his finest moments, despite drawing him severe backlash at the time: his vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, his firm recognition of France’s complicity in the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. Mediapart, in contrast, paints Chirac’s political career as a series of twelve strategic “metamorphoses” that enabled him to cultivate and maintain power through

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Revue de Presse: September 22

September 22, 2019

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The historian and Tocqueville21 contributor Sophia Rosenfeld reflects on conspiracy theories in The Nation.   Rosenfeld reviews a new book by Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum, A Lot of People are Saying, in which Muirhead and Rosenblum claim that our current American political moment suffers a new form of “conspiricism,” defined by its low standards of proof and its lack of motivating ideology. Rosenfeld agrees that conspiracy-mongering can be damaging for democracy, even as she argues that these dangers are not as new as the book suggests.

Why do Texans still love T. R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star, a thoroughly-debunked popular history of their state? And why have more serious histories—often of a social or

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Revue de Presse: September 15

September 14, 2019

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Must our political discourse be civil? Is incivility a mark of defiance, or its own form of virtue-signaling? Are rejections of politeness and refusal to debate deliberate moral choices, or just cathartic indulgences? These are the tough questions that Amy Olberding poses in her essay for Aeon, where she responds to our polemic culture of callouts and takedowns with some introspection on the morals of civility itself.

It is becoming increasing clear that the European Union it is far from a representative democracy for its member states. In his analysis for AOC, Didier Georgakakis argues that the European Commission (whose new list of commissaries was recently published) resembles something closer to a federation of

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Revue de Presse: September 8

September 8, 2019

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Would Tocqueville have gone to Burning Man? The New York Times describes the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer and his interest in the annual desert festival frequented by anarchists, artists, and free spirits—dubbing Romer “de Tocqueville among the Burners.” Romer, who’s increasingly fascinated by “charter cities” and the economics of urban planning, thinks there might be lessons to learn at northwest Nevada’s yearly bacchanal. Is a well-designed street grid enough to inspire cooperation in the midst of chaos?

Another of this week’s comparisons between Tocqueville and the present comes from Harvey Mansfield, the Harvard political theorist (and translator of the UChicago Press edition of Democracy in America).

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Revue de Presse: Sept. 1

September 1, 2019

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Boris Johnson’s decision to “prorogue” parliament has set off a fresh wave of Brexit controversy. In the TLS, Philip Salmon explains some notable historical examples of past prorogations. Salmon notes that even in the “pre-democratic” era, prorogation controversies often invited thorny debates over the people’s will: Is putting a “pause” on parliamentary activity legitimate if it’s sanctioned by a majority, or can minority governments also lay claim to the royal prerogative?

Those who find the unwritten British constitution confusing are not alone. The legal scholar Alison Young appears on Talking Politics as part of the podcast’s summer guides series to discuss the constitution’s role in questions of devolution,

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Revue de Presse: August 25

August 25, 2019

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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

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Revue de Presse: August 18

August 18, 2019

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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 a symposium published by Syndicate Theology, four scholars respond to Gary Dorrien’s new book on social democracy in Europe, with responses in turn by the author. As the symposium Aaron Stauffer editor puts it in his introduction, Dorrien’s Social Democracy in the Making has the ambitious aim of placing social democracy and democratic socialism at the heart of the history of

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