British Politics after the 2017 Election

Theresa May’s gamble to call an early election that would deliver a landslide victory badly backfired as the Conservative Party she leads for now ended up losing seats and now requires the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland to stay in power in a “hung parliament” where no party has an outright majority.

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Critical Theory of the Contemporary: Brexit, Immigration, and Populism

In addition to exploring the history and legacy of the George Circle, Telos 176 (Fall 2016) features a special section of topical writing, introduced here by Russell A. Berman, that continues our ongoing commitment to setting forth a critical theory of the contemporary. Telos 176 is now available for purchase in our store.

For nearly half a century, Telos has sustained a discussion of critical theory, broadly understood, encompassing various and diverse intellectual traditions and individual thinkers whose work points toward trenchant examinations of our contemporary society and culture. Articles published in the journal operate in various registers—philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, cultural criticism, or more generically “theory”—but despite this range of disciplinary idioms, they each contribute directly or indirectly to the ongoing elaboration of an examination of the present. Beyond their import as contributions to their respective academic fields, Telos articles enhance our ability to articulate the ongoing and constantly evolving critical theory of the contemporary.

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Telos 176 (Fall 2016): The Poet and the University: Stefan George among the Scholars

One often speaks of the importance of poetry for thought, even of poetry as a mode of thinking, and perhaps nowhere more than in Germany, the country of Dichter and Denker, of poets and thinkers. The German intellectual tradition is defined by a long, intimately interwoven relation between poetry and thought going back to the solidification of the Modern Age in the eighteenth century: Klopstock’s “Republic of Letters”; Goethe and Schiller’s Classicism, especially Schiller’s “aesthetic state”; Hölderlin’s “founding poets” and the centrality of poets in “the time of need”; Jena Romanticism’s inextricable relation between “Symphilosophie” and “Sympoesie”; Hegel’s definition of beauty as “the sensible shining forth of the idea”; and onward to this day.

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Brexit and Deep Structures in Anglo-American Politics

Political analysts have a tendency to consider political events within a relatively short time frame. This tendency has become worse over time as the study of political history has declined, and the historical memory of many analysts is often quite short. Despite this, the case for looking at the politics of a country or civilization in terms of its longue durée is quite compelling, as there can be deep structures underlying politics that are not apparent until they are investigated. Brexit provides a good example. For many people Brexit is viewed in terms of the last twenty-five years and the impact that globalization has had on Britain, as if such things have only taken place in recent times. There are deep structures in the politics of any country that shape its political culture, and hence its response to changing circumstances.

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Europe after Brexit

Walk around Berlin these days and you will find that you will hear almost as much English being spoken on the streets as German. While some describe this situation as a sign that Berlin has now become a cosmopolitan city, this very interpretation reveals precisely the attitude that has led to the rise of English in Germany. To speak English is to be cosmopolitan, and to speak German is to be provincial, and so it becomes a mark of pride to converse in English rather than one’s native German, at least for a certain segment of the population. And therein lies the problem. For it is precisely that segment of global business people, academics, and bureaucrats against whom nationalist sentiment has been rising all over Europe amongst the monolinguals who see themselves as excluded from the European project.

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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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