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

Dredging Memory

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's new documentary is an immemorial tale of men at war, almost Homeric in its directness and simplicity.

AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File
AP Photo/Eddie Adams, File In this April 28, 1965 file photo, U.S. Marine infantry stream into a suspected Viet Cong village near Da Nang in Vietnam during the Vietnamese war. F orty-seven years ago last month I returned from an outpost in the Mekong Delta to graduate school at MIT, from which I had been drafted two years earlier. For the past two weeks I have been dredging up wartime memories, spurred by the epic documentary produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for PBS. Not that my war bore much resemblance to the war so vividly depicted in the film. The filmmakers devote most of their footage to bloody battles and bloody-minded politicians. The contrast between the two constitutes the moral of their work. They want to honor the soldiers on both sides for the authenticity of their courage and sacrifice, which they contrast with the mendacity of those who send them off to die. “The blood is real,” novelist Tim O’Brien says, leaving the viewer to infer that the rest—the political...

Germany Votes

In this year’s federal election, Angela Merkel won a fourth term, but the German far-right achieved its strongest showing since World War II.  

AP Photo/Michael Sohn
AP Photo/Michael Sohn Supporters hold posters as German Chancellor Angela Merkel returns on the stage at the headquarters of the Christian Democratic Union CDU in Berlin. T his Sunday, September 24, Germans went to the polls to elect a new Bundestag. The preliminary results confirm predictions that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU; and its Bavarian partner Christian Social Union) would come in first, with about one-third of the vote, but this is down about 8 percentage points compared with four years ago. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), led by Martin Schulz, turned in its worst performance since World War II , with just over 20 percent of the vote. The SPD thus becomes the latest victim in the collapse of center-left establishment parties nearly everywhere. In the May presidential election in France, the French Socialists also turned in their worst performance since their founding and have been forced to put their party headquarters up for sale...

Party Realignment in France

The election of Emmanuel Macron as the next president of France could presage a dramatic party realignment.

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
AP Photo/Christophe Ena French President-elect Emmanuel Macron waves to the crowd during a campaign rally in Chatellerault. L ast Sunday, Emmanuel Macron became the eighth president of France’s Fifth Republic. It was a stunning victory, with Macron grabbing two-thirds of the vote against his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen. Yet skeptics have claimed that Macron’s triumph was not really a victory at all but rather an expression of fear of the extremist alternative. Macron therefore has no mandate, claim the nay-sayers, and his presidency will soon succumb to the various forms of conservatism and resistance that doomed his two predecessors, François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. This analysis ignores the extent to which Macron’s victory has destabilized the French party system. He won the presidency without the support of an established political party. That has never been done before. Neither of the major parties, the Socialist Party of incumbent President Hollande nor the Republican...

France Avoids the Worst

In the first round of the French presidential election, voters shocked everyone by doing exactly what the polls predicted they would do. Round two will make 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron the youngest French president and the first not to be a member of one of the two major parties.

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti Ballots are counted by volunteers for the first-round presidential election at a polling station in Paris, Sunday, April 23, 2017. U p to the final minute, the world watched in suspense. Would French voters stun everyone, as British and American voters did in 2016? In the final weeks the polls had tightened to the point where no one could say what the outcome would be. But in the end the pollsters proved to be spot on: Emmanuel Macron came in first, with 23.7 percent of the vote, and Marine Le Pen second with 21.9. This result makes a Macron victory in the second round almost certain: no poll has put Le Pen within 20 points of him in a head-to-head contest. The next president of France will therefore be, without a doubt, a 39-year-old centrist technocrat who staunchly supports the European Union. Yet this was supposed to be the year of populist revolt, rejection of globalization, and disdain for external constraints on national economic policymaking. What...

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