Putting out a publication is fun, but it’s hard: as soon as we have put the issue to bed, we are starting to lay out what we have for the next week. But we are also thinking about next month, and even next year. At the same time, we are recalling work that we may have published months ago that may be newly relevant. But there is a moment as we turn from one issue to another where everything pauses, just for a second. We look uptown from our offices on lower Fifth, and we say to ourselves: this might be the best job in the world. And this week’s offerings, even though they survey the grimness of our current world, remind us how much fun it is to work with the authors who write for us.
In Democracy, senior editor Maria Bucur offers us a two-part reflection on Romania where, she argues, the 2019 presidential elections signal a populism in retreat. In her second essay, however, Bucur points to an underlying corruption that has become harder to fight since the Trump administration, as part of the campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, has begun meddling in Romania’s internal affairs. Finally, Andrew Arato discusses a possible alternative to coup and revolution in Bolivia: a negotiated transition, which “holds the promise of having been tested across time and in many nations[.]”
It has been a busy week in American politics too – isn’t it always, nowadays? In this week’s selection, I discuss why Pete Buttigieg’s meteoric rise in the polls may not indicate that he is a strong, or a desirable, national standard bearer for the Democrats. Senior editor Jeffrey C. Isaac continues his ongoing commentary on the impeachment hearings by asking why the Democrats’ messaging isn’t stronger – and imagining what the consequences for that failure might be as the party musters public support for holding President Trump accountable. Finally, we revive an article from 2016 that resonates today: Robert Ivie discusses why extreme political language, and conflating populism with demagoguery, is undemocratic.
Finally, in Mobilities, Jiyoung Cho reviews ethnographic filmmaker William Callahan’s documentary “Great Walls,” which points out that walls do not always serve as barriers, but can be beloved places where inside and outside are blurred. John Chamberlain examines at the relationship between free movement across borders and the evolution of a “post-work” society, and in an essay originally published last spring, Siraj Izhar looks at the place that the refugee and migrant body has been allotted in Europe’s story about itself.
Claire Potter is co-executive editor of Public Seminar and Professor of History at The New School for Social Research. You can tweet with her @TenuredRadical.