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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Refugees, Xenophobia, and Islamist Politics: Two Letters

Mina Ahadi is an Iranian exile, living in Germany. She opposed the Shah as well as Khomeini. In 1990 she fled to the West. An adamant secularist, critical of all religion and therefore an opponent of Islamist politics, she does not appear to distinguish between “Islamic” and “Islamist” in her prose. She identifies herself as a communist, she is a leader in the “Central Committee of Former Muslims,” and she is a principled defender of human rights. In two recent open letters, she stakes out positions that not only provide insight into contemporary German political discussions but that are directly relevant to U.S. debates as well.

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Matthias Küntzel on Germany, Iran, and Antisemitism

Writing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website, Joseph S. Spoerl reviews Matthias Küntzel’s Germany and Iran: From the Aryan Axis to the Nuclear Threshold, published by Telos Press Publishing. “Küntzel’s book,” writes Spoerl, “demonstrates a deeply disturbing truth, namely, that if Iran should acquire nuclear weapons and use them to commit a second Holocaust against the six million Jews of Israel, then Germany—the nation that committed the first Holocaust—will have played a central role in paving the way for the Iranian perpetrators.”

Save 20% on your purchase of Germany and Iran, as well as other Telos Press books, by using the coupon code BOOKS20 in our online store.

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Sklar: Islamic Imperialism

This is the fourth in a series of posts that introduce the thought of historian Martin J. Sklar, as a prelude to a print symposium on his life and work in a future issue of Telos. Earlier excerpts of Sklar’s writing appear in the first, second, and third posts. For a fuller introduction, refer to the head note to the first TELOSscope post. As a researcher, Sklar was a historian of the United States, including its role in the world, particularly (from the late nineteenth century) as a promoter and guarantor (on balance) of a global system of expanding economic and political freedom. As a reader and informed commentator on international affairs, he was also deeply interested in broader issues in world history, particularly insofar as they shaped contemporary global conflicts. (Among the several dozen of Sklar’s books that I inherited are heavily marked and annotated copies of the following: John Yoo, War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror; Philip Bobbitt, Terror and Consent; Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A Brief History of 2,000 Years; and Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire.) The following excerpts from a letter to John Yoo reflect Sklar’s evolving understanding of what he understood as an ongoing U.S. (and Western) war against Islamic imperialism. Of particular interest is his conceptualization of various sectarian, and even nominally secular, movements as sometimes-competing branches of an expansive, totalitarian movement.

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The 2016 Telos Conference: Samuel Tadros on Islamism and the Crisis of Modernity

From the 2016 Telos Conference in New York, the following is a video of the keynote presentation by Samuel Tadros, “Islamism and the Crisis of Modernity.” We have previously posted videos of the conference’s plenary session on “Ethical Solidarity in Political Difference” and of a roundtable on the question “What is the Global Dimension of Ethical Life?” Stay tuned for more conference videos and papers in the coming days.

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“They Hate Us”: On the New Year’s Eve Riot in Cologne

What happened in Cologne on New Year’s Eve is taking place now, at this very moment and as a matter of course, in broad daylight a hundred thousand times in North Africa and the Arab world: women are being sexually assaulted, humiliated, and, if they resist the attacks, denounced as “sluts” or “whores.” The Egyptian author and feminist Mona Eltahway described this phenomenon and its causes on May 2, 2012, in Le Monde: “Well, they [the men of the Arab world] hate us. It has to be finally said. . . . Women in the whole world have problems; it is true that the United States has not yet elected a woman president; and it is true that in many Western countries (I live in one of them), women are still treated like objects. That is the point where the conversation usually ends, if you try to discuss the reasons why Arab societies hate women. Name any Arab country, and I will give you a litany of examples for the bad treatment—it is a thousand times worse than you think—of women, which derives from a poisonous mixture of culture and religion which evidently only very few people are willing to address, out of fear of being accused of blasphemy or shock.”

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