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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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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Britain, Europe, and the West: Reflections on the UK’s EU Referendum

As a German national living in Britain for two decades, I have followed the political debate on whether the UK should stay in, or leave, the European Union (EU) with utter dismay. The two official campaigns have prophesied disaster of biblical proportion in the event of Britain either exiting (Brexit) or remaining (Bremain). Economic doomsday and a return to the violent state of nature in case of Brexit, as the “In” camp would have us believe. Alternatively, subjugation to a sinister super-state and marauding masses of migrants in case of Bremain, so say the “Out” camp.

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UK Event Announcement: In or Out? Debating Britain’s EU Membership

In or Out? Debating Britain’s EU Membership
3rd Seminar: National Security & Global Influence

In association with the James Madison Charitable Trust, the Centre for Federal Studies at the University of Kent is organising a series of three seminars entitled “In or Out? Informing the political debate and popular opinion on UK’s EU membership.” These seminars will take place in the run-up to the referendum and focus respectively on the economy, politics, and security.

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What Happened to Europe's Federalism?

It is unlikely that the present EU will ever become politically unified. However a reduced number of member states could constitute a European Federal League designed to become, as such, a new member of the EU in place of the federated states. It could consequently operate separately on a number of issues. Other members might join the new Federal Union later, under certain conditions.

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Populism or National-Populism? A Critical Approach to Cas Mudde's Perspective on SYRIZA's Populism

Cas Mudde’s book on SYRIZA’s “failure of populist promises,” which recently appeared in Greek, lends itself to multiple, successive readings of the current Greek populist experience in a comparative setting. One of the leading political scientists currently researching the populist phenomenon in both its radical-right and radical-left varieties, Mudde combines thorough knowledge of his subject matter’s ideological premises with a thorough analysis of his factual material, namely, the empirical cases he sets out to investigate. Indeed, it is to Mudde that we owe the term “pathological normalcy,” denoting the current form of radical-right populism in Europe. Mudde has used this term to explain the phenomenon of “mainstream thought” radicalization employed by the “populist radical right” with a view to exploiting a social and identitarian malaise that is widespread in several European countries. It is also to Mudde that we owe a number of thought-provoking and, in many respects, pioneering comparative studies (many of them co-authored or co-edited with his fellow political scientist Cristόbal Rovira Kaltwasser) about the differences between European and Latin-American populisms, in which Mudde demonstrates the latter’s rather inclusionary practices as opposed to the former’s rather exclusionary ones. Moreover, we owe him a very insightful discussion of the different outcomes produced when populist political parties come to power.

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