Democracy's Dilemmas Reconsidered

Books in Perspective

Tocqueville’s Dilemmas, and Ours: Sovereignty, Nationalism, Globalization, a new book by Professor Atanassow, revisits the work of the 19th century French thinker and statesman Alexis de Tocqueville in order to consider how current democratic anxieties and policy conundrums, such as the global resurgence of nationalist populism and the rising prestige of autocratic regimes, can be appraised and addressed.    
Her talk presented the motivation and main findings of the book. Drawing on Tocqueville’s analytical and policy writings, the presentation focused on how urgent questions facing democracies today are rooted in hard-wired tensions Tocqueville identified between the universal scope of democratic principles and the limits of practical attempts to grapple with key issues of sovereignty, nationalism, and globalization. Rather than being “solved” once and for all, these dilemmas must be navigated with care, tact, and moderation. 

Ewa Atanassow, Professor of Politics at Bard College Berlin and former IWM Fellow.

The book presentation was commented on by Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University. He is a member of the IWM Board.