Telos 179 (Summer 2017): A New Regime?

Telos 179 (Summer 2017) is now available for purchase in our store.

When the historian Ken Burns spoke at the Stanford University commencement last June, he delivered an exceptionally political address, including an attack on what he labeled the “Vichy Republicans.” Those Republican leaders who had not distanced themselves from candidate Trump, so Burns, were the equivalent of the Vichy French who collaborated with Hitler. That master metaphor, comparing 2016 to 1933, has continued into the new administration, with the anti-Trump camp labeling itself as “the resistance.” Despite Burns’s historiographical authority, one might question the validity of the underlying equation. No doubt the policies of the Trump administration are more conservative than those of Obama—hardly surprising—but the paradigms of the totalitarianism of the twentieth century are not necessarily the most adequate theoretical tools to analyze early twenty-first-century political phenomena. As emotionally satisfying as it may be for some to try to relive battles of earlier decades, Critical Theory ought to try to do better. We may very well be entering a different political era, a new regime, and not only in the United States. Can we describe it more effectively?

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Paris Book Festival Names Ellen Hinsey’s Mastering the Past for Top Honors

Ellen Hinsey’s Mastering the Past: Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe and the Rise of Illiberalism has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Paris Book Festival, which honors the best of international publishing. A study of a critical shift in the European political landscape, Mastering the Past examines how populism, nationalism, and authoritarian rule have returned a quarter of a century after the changes following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Eyewitness reports examine the key events of that time and relate them to current conditions. Hinsey’s outstanding research and interpretation of the events provide fascinating insights on what is happening in this key corner of the globe, making it well worthy of international attention from the publishing community.

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Ellen Hinsey’s Mastering the Past and the Future of the European Union

Writing for Reuters News, John Lloyd considers Central Europe’s growing contempt for the European Union. The history and prospects for Central and Eastern Europe are very much at the heart of Ellen Hinsey’s new book Mastering the Past: Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe and the Rise of Illiberalism, which Lloyd discusses in his analysis: “In her recent book Mastering the Past, Ellen Hinsey writes of the ‘specters of populism, nationalism, extreme-right militantism and authoritarianism – released from their historical deep freeze’, stalking through the area…”

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The Revolt against the Elites, or the New Populist Wave: An Interview

Today, the anti-elitist political concept responds directly and effectively to social demands in Europe and the United States. And this anti-elitist or anti-system concept perfectly encompasses both the left and right, and, of course, the extremists. As different as they are, the new leaders are protesting and transgressive. Their demagoguery is marked by the language of transgression, provocation, and excess, based on the subversion of language or behavior codes: for them, this is a matter of drawing a clear distinction from the standard model policy. They can complain about being demonized by their opponents, while still trying to stay slightly demonized in order to maintain their attractiveness. This is the prerequisite to the seduction that they perform. This differentiates them from formatted and conformist leaders, who pursue respectability, which makes them somewhat watery.

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Commentary on Russia and Ukraine

The ongoing take over of Crimea by Russia, and its intense political campaigning to annul the results of the Kiev revolution, took most observers of international politics by surprise. Normally, one has not been considering Russia as a serious contender of the United States for hegemony, as a country with serious economic or military resources, or even as a country with a particularly serious ideology. American and European political science has for decades been busy with “transitions to democracy” and the evaluation of their relative successes (even though there is a recent shift toward the study of authoritarianism), and in International Relations, China seemed to be the only possible opponent to U.S. unilateral hegemony. European Studies examines the various neighborhood policies of the European Union, measuring their relative success in “democratization.” The U.S. and European leaders therefore reacted to the events in Russia and Ukraine with surprise: John Kerry spoke of Russia’s “nineteenth-century behavior,” and Angela Merkel described Putin as being delusional, living “in another world.” This correctly describes the huge discrepancies in worldviews and values, but the views and values of Russian leadership, whether delusional or not, have very real effects, and therefore represent a repressed part of the reality about which the Western leaders do not want to think.

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