The Return of the Scarlet Letter

The Return of the Scarlet Letter

Illustrations by Nicolas Ortega“It was no great distance, in those days, from the prison-door to the market-place. Measured by the prisoner’s experience, however, it might be reckoned a journey of some length.”So begins the tale of Hester Prynne, as recounted in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most famous novel, The Scarlet Letter. As readers of this classic American …

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Liberal Democracy Is Worth a Fight

Liberal Democracy Is Worth a Fight

Moises Saman / Magnum Of all the empty, pointless statements that are periodically repeated by Western politicians, none is more empty and pointless than this one: “There can be no military solution to this conflict.” That was what Ban Ki-moon, then the UN secretary-general, said back in 2013: “There is no military solution to the …

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Tucker Carlson’s Self-Loathing International Tourism

Tucker Carlson’s Self-Loathing International Tourism

Tucker Carlson is spending a week in Budapest in order to annoy Americans and everybody else who believes in the ideals of America: the rule of law, a free press, free elections, the conviction that democracy is preferable to autocracy. Showing how much he despises the United States, its Constitution, and its heritage, the Fox …

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The MyPillow Guy Really Could Destroy Democracy

The MyPillow Guy Really Could Destroy Democracy

When you contemplate the end of democracy in America, what kind of person do you think will bring it about? Maybe you picture a sinister billionaire in a bespoke suit, slipping brown envelopes to politicians. Maybe your nightmare is a rogue general, hijacking the nuclear football. Maybe you think of a jackbooted thug leading a …

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What Marxism and ‘Critical Race Theory’ Have in Common

What Marxism and ‘Critical Race Theory’ Have in Common

“I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a Communist.” — General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking to the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday “He’s not just a pig—he’s stupid.” — Tucker Carlson, Fox News television host, describing Milley Back in the 1980s, comparative-literature majors at …

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‘Stop the Steal’ Goes Global

‘Stop the Steal’ Goes Global

Here’s a quiz: Which world leader made the following statements? “We are witnessing the greatest election fraud in the history of the country, in my opinion in the history of any democracy.” “This may be the most important speech I’ve ever made. I want to provide an update on our ongoing efforts to expose … …

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The Oligarchs Who Turn Democracy Into Something Else

The Oligarchs Who Turn Democracy Into Something Else

In 2015, Daniel Obajtek was the county commissioner of Pcim, a tiny district south of Kraków and north of the Polish-Slovak border. “County commissioner” is perhaps a grand-sounding title, but I can’t find a better one. In Polish, the term for the job he held is wójt, an old-fashioned word that means something like “village …

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If Belarus Gets Away With It, Other Dictators Will Follow

If Belarus Gets Away With It, Other Dictators Will Follow

Even when our most basic civilizational values are in dispute, there are a few sets of rules and regulations that we nevertheless manage to share. The laws of the sea, for example, or the norms governing the conduct of air-traffic controllers. Pilots of any nationality, even when flying to Caracas, Havana, or Pyongyang, have no …

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Navalny Is Showing Russia What Courage Is

Navalny Is Showing Russia What Courage Is

When Alexei Navalny boarded a plane to Moscow on January 17, he turned his life into a metaphor. He knew it, his wife knew it, and everybody else on the plane knew it. So did the millions of people who had watched his documentary videos, who had seen the witty interviews he did on the …

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What America’s Vaccination Campaign Proves to the World

Mass Vaccination Is a Show of American Might

Every so often, an emerging technology changes the global balance of power, alters alliances, and shifts the relationships among nations. After World War II, nuclear weapons overthrew all of the existing geopolitical paradigms. The countries that got the bomb were considered global powers; countries that did not have it sought it, so that they could …

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The Science of Making Americans Hurt Their Own Country

How Russia Got Americans to Do Its Dirty Work

The National Intelligence Council has released an unclassified report assessing, retrospectively, foreign threats to the 2020 election. It has a few twists and turns: The Iranian government attempted to run some kind of online influence campaign; the Chinese government considered doing the same but then dropped the idea. But most of the report is about …

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How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire

The Internet Doesn’t Have to Be Awful

Illustrations by Yoshi Sodeoka This article was published online on March 8, 2021. To read the diary of Gustave de Beaumont, the traveling companion of Alexis de Tocqueville, is to understand just how primitive the American wilderness once seemed to visiting Frenchmen. In a single month, December 1831, Tocqueville and Beaumont were on a steamship …

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