Atanassow, Ewa. Tocqueville’s Dilemmas, and Ours: Sovereignty, Nationalism, Globalization. Princeton University Press, 2022.
How can today’s liberal democracies withstand the illiberal wave sweeping the globe? What can revive our waning faith in constitutional democracy? Tocqueville’s Dilemmas, and Ours argues that Alexis de Tocqueville, one of democracy’s greatest champions and most incisive critics, can guide us forward.
Drawing on Tocqueville’s major works and lesser-known policy writings, Ewa Atanassow shines a bright light on the foundations of liberal democracy. She argues that its prospects depend on how we tackle three dilemmas that were as urgent in Tocqueville’s day as they are in ours: how to institutionalize popular sovereignty, how to define nationhood, and how to grasp the possibility and limits of global governance. These are pivotal but often neglected dimensions of Tocqueville’s work, and this fresh look at his writings provides a powerful framework for addressing the tensions between liberalism and democracy in the twenty-first century.
Recovering a richer liberalism capable of weathering today’s political storms, Tocqueville’s Dilemmas, and Ours explains how we can reclaim nationalism as a liberal force and reimagine sovereignty in a global age—and do so with one of democracy’s most discerning thinkers as our guide.