Should Middle East Religious-Minority Refugees Be Prioritized?

President Trump’s executive order on refugees has been widely, and rightly, criticized on policy and moral grounds. But while criticism of the executive order is indeed proper and necessary, one aspect of the new policy, namely, the prioritization of claims of religious persecution by religious minorities in refugee applications, which has received wide criticism, should in fact be hardly controversial. Critics of the measure have rejected it on both moral grounds—it discriminates based on one’s faith, as well as on practical ones—the perception of such bias toward Christians by the United States would impact the U.S. negatively and may harm those very same Christian communities in the region, who will be viewed as Western agents. These concerns are of course hardly new.

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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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A Crisis Reminiscent of the 1930s: Germany Facing the New Populism: An Interview with Paul Nolte

Politicians who warn us against the New Right have been speaking about “Weimar conditions.” Isn’t the comparison with the pre-Hitler era exaggerated?

Not as far as the surprise attack dynamic is concerned. One is in fact reminded of the speed with which the National Socialist party gained political ground in the Weimar Republic. First it had 18%, then suddenly 30%, and soon governing without it became practically impossible. Let’s be honest: Today no one knows where the AfD will reach its limit. In Austria, the candidate of the right-wing populist FPÖ got half the votes. Not that long ago, who would have thought this possible?

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A New Special Path for Germany

As far as the willingness to accept refugees is concerned, Germany is the lonely leader in Europe. No other European country is behaving similarly, nor does the United States. Evidently there is a new special path for Germany. How can this be explained? First of all: Germany is prosperous; we’re doing quite well. If we had southern European unemployment rates or the scarcity of East European countries, we would be less hospitable. Furthermore, influential industrial associations early on argued for the generous reception of refugees and continued to oppose the reestablishment of national border controls, on the basis of economic interests. Human rights activists and capitalists are promoting the same policy, and not for the first time. The left-wing critique of capitalism generally overlooked this affinity, but right-wing capitalism critics understand this very well: for them capitalism is not sufficiently national—it is too universalist.

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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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