Arthur Goldhammer

Arthur Goldhammer is a writer, translator, and Affiliate of the Center for European Studies at Harvard. He blogs at French Politics. Follow him on Twitter: @artgoldhammer.

Recent Articles

Foreign Bodies

The volatile mixture of religiously tinged nationalism with massive social disruption and large-scale population movements threatens once again to become explosive in Europe.

Arne Dedert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Arne Dedert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images People accompanied by police walk past an election poster by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that reads "Unser Land, unsere Heimat" (Our country, our home) during a rally of "Karlsruhe wehrt sich" (literally, Karlsruhe fights back), an offshoot of the far-right Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) movement, against German public broadcaster Suedwestrundfunk (SWR) in Mainz, Germany, February 20, 2016. R esistance to the presence of Muslims in Europe is not new, but it has increased dramatically in recent months with jihadist terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, the influx of refugees and economic migrants from mostly Muslim countries, and sexual assaults by Muslim men in Cologne and other cities. Surveillance has increased, fences have gone up, and borders have been closed. These police measures reflect anxieties stirred by recent events. But a deeper unease about Europe’s relation to Islam can be seen in...

Can Matteo Renzi Save Europe from Austerity?

The last best hope of Europe’s anti-austerity forces faces an uncertain future.

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer Italian Premier Matteo Renzi speaks at Harvard University's Center for European Studies in Cambridge, as he continues a four-day U.S. visit, Thursday, March 31, 2016. M atteo Renzi, the youngest man to be elected prime minister of Italy since 1861, came to Harvard on the last day of March and spoke for about an hour to an audience of several hundred (video here ). With the robust frame of a rugby fullback, the Italian premier is not a person one can easily imagine tip-toeing across a high wire. Yet on a tightrope is precisely where he finds himself today, precariously balanced between left and right at home and between pro-austerity and anti-austerity forces in the European Union. Make no mistake: He is a man with the confidence necessary to venture across an abyss with the merest filament of support. Seeking to ingratiate himself with his Harvard audience, he invoked the memory of alumnus John F. Kennedy, who once remarked that “change is the law of life.”...

Stuck in the Middle with You

In defense of the political center. 

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses as she speaks during an election night event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, Tuesday, March 15, 2016. R emember the old hit by the Scottish band Stealers Wheel, “Stuck in the Middle with You”? That song comes to mind these days whenever I talk politics with the people with whom I’ve shared a political lifetime, friends who’ve witnessed the 1960s and Vietnam, Watergate, the Reagan reaction, the Clinton years, September 11, the war in Iraq, the crash of 2008, the election of the first black president, the hesitant recovery from the Great Recession, and the cliff-hanger passage of the Affordable Care Act. A few have supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries, but most are backing Hillary Clinton, albeit without enthusiasm: stuck in the middle with “jokers to the right,” as the song says, and while not “clowns to the left,” certainly, a mostly younger crowd, less...


At the heart of Trump's appeal is not authoritarianism but the cult of celebrity. 

AP Photo/Branden Camp
AP Photo/Branden Camp Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Macon Centreplex, Monday, November 30, 2015, in Macon, Georgia. A lexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat who achieved fame in the early 19th century with his portrait of democracy in America , thought that democratic societies were transparent places whose citizens clearly understood one another. “In America, where privileges of birth never existed, and where wealth confers no particular rights on those who possess it, people who do not know one another easily frequent the same places. … Their approach is therefore natural, frank, and open.” Tocqueville would therefore be stunned by the sight of America in 2016. Indeed, any presidential election year is likely to reveal that Americans do not know one another nearly as well as they, like their French visitor, often assume. Democratic societies are by no means transparent. For all sorts of reasons, people remain oblivious of...

Will Britain Quit the European Union?

Whether the UK leaves the EU has less to do with turmoil in Europe, and more to do with British politics.

(Photo: AP/Steve Parsons)
(Photo: AP/Steve Parsons) Passengers pass through the UK border at Heathrow Airport. T he anthem of the European Union is Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” but unlike the national anthems of member states, it’s never played in football stadiums over the cheers of thousands of excited fans. The EU is and always has been unloved, an ugly duckling, an Unidentified Foreign Object rather than a cherished darling of joyful patriotic effusion. Its benefits are diffuse and harder to demonstrate than its defects, which are ripe for ridicule in every absurd regulation . Yet it has survived for more than half a century and grown in both extent and depth, from the six member states of what was at its inception little more than a customs union, to today’s 28-member “single Europe,” which exerts powerful influence on the laws and mores of its subsidiary polities. The last few years have nevertheless severely tested the robustness of the novel political and economic arrangements that define the EU. The...