Critical Theory of the Contemporary: Nationalism, Populism, Islamism

In addition to its main focus on original sin in modernity, Telos 178 (Spring 2017) 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 178 is now available for purchase in our store.

Not that long ago, debates over politics were anchored in a clear opposition between universalism and relativism. Proponents of an inclusive structure of, at least aspirationally, all states—the new world order—envisioned an unchallenged entrenchment of democratic capitalism everywhere. Where dictatorships endured, as in North Korea, they were treated as bizarre outliers, exceptions that proved the rule of the progress of mankind toward Kant’s perpetual peace. Universalist values held sway; ultimately all rights were to become human rights, due to all humans solely on the basis of their humanity, implying that rights pursuant to national citizenship, to membership in any particular national community, would dwindle in significance: no borders, no sovereignty, no traditions. However this conceptual expression of globalization faced sophisticated critics, variously postmodern, which treated that universalism with disdain and suspicion, insinuating to it an imperial agenda and offering an alternative program of multiplicity, diversity, and multipolarity. That was the historical moment of the theoretical opposition between Habermas and Derrida, the universality of communicative reason versus the insistence on difference. Inclusion and integration stood opposed to multiculturalism, as did generally applicable norms to the particular claims of local culture and tradition.

Continue reading →

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…”

Continue reading →

Now Available! Ellen Hinsey's Mastering the Past

New from Telos Press: Ellen Hinsey’s Mastering the Past: Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe and the Rise of Illiberalism. Order your copy in our online store, and save 20% on the list price by using the coupon code BOOKS20 during the checkout process.

Over the last decade Ellen Hinsey has traveled across Central and Eastern Europe researching a critical shift in the European political landscape: the rise of illiberalism. A quarter of a century after the changes of 1989—and as former Soviet sphere societies come to terms with their histories—the specters of populism, nationalism, extreme-right parties, and authoritarian rule have returned in force. Through a series of eyewitness reports, Mastering the Past offers an insider’s view of key political events, including the 2012 Russian elections, the Polish presidential plane crash in Smolensk, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s vision for a new Hungary. Hinsey explores the darkening hour of European politics with an incisive mind and an eye for detail, recording the urgent danger that illiberalism represents for the new century.

Continue reading →

Now Available for Pre-order: Ellen Hinsey’s Mastering the Past

Mastering the Past:
Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe and the Rise of Illiberalism
by Ellen Hinsey

Over the last decade Ellen Hinsey has traveled across Central and Eastern Europe researching a critical shift in the European political landscape: the rise of illiberalism. A quarter of a century after the changes of 1989—and as former Soviet sphere societies come to terms with their histories—the specters of populism, nationalism, extreme-right parties, and authoritarian rule have returned in force. Through a series of eyewitness reports, Mastering the Past offers an insider’s view of key political events, including the 2012 Russian elections, the Polish presidential plane crash in Smolensk, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s vision for a new Hungary. Hinsey explores the darkening hour of European politics with an incisive mind and an eye for detail, recording the urgent danger that illiberalism represents for the new century.

Continue reading →

Why We Kill Each Other: Warfare in a Post-National World

“Fraternity means that the father no longer sacrifices the sons; instead the brothers kill one another. Wars between nations have been replaced by civil war. The great settling of accounts, first under national ‘pretexts,’ led to a rapidly escalating world civil war.”

—Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil

Continue reading →

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.

Continue reading →