Walter Laqueur has been writing and teaching for over six decades, primarily in the fields of twentieth century history and politics, always as a shrewd and thoughtful generalist in an age of specialization. In this engaging memoir, Laqueur focuses on the political and historical events that shaped his thinking and that have inspired his intellectual work throughout his life. He discusses living and attending school under Nazism; Marxism, the Soviet Union, and the part he played in Cold War politics; and the image his generation had of Zionism, Israel, and the Middle East. Laqueur shares his views on beltway politics and think tanks, and concludes with a look at guerrilla warfare and terrorism, and the future of Europe.
2016 witnessed an unprecedented shock to political elites in both Europe and America. Populism was on the march, fueled by a substantial ignorance of, or contempt for, the norms, practices, and institutions of liberal democracy. It is not surprising that observers on the left and right have called for renewed efforts at civic education. For liberal democracy to survive, they argue, a form of political education aimed at “the people” is clearly imperative.
In Teachers of the People, Dana Villa takes us back to the moment in history when “the people” first appeared on the stage of modern European politics. That moment—the era just before and after the French Revolution—led many major thinkers to celebrate the dawning of a new epoch. Yet these same thinkers also worried intensely about the people’s seemingly evident lack of political knowledge, experience, and judgment. Focusing on Rousseau, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Mill, Villa shows how reformist and progressive sentiments were often undercut by skepticism concerning the political capacity of ordinary people. They therefore felt that “the people” needed to be restrained, educated, and guided—by laws and institutions and a skilled political elite. The result, Villa argues, was less the taming of democracy’s wilder impulses than a pervasive paternalism culminating in new forms of the tutorial state.
Ironically, it is the reliance upon the distinction between “teachers” and “taught” in the work of these theorists which generates civic passivity and ignorance. And this, in turn, creates conditions favorable to the emergence of an undemocratic and illiberal populism.
In the sixties, Fitzhugh Mullan was an activist in the civil rights struggle. While in medical school, Mullan was shocked by gaps in what the students learned, and the lack of humanity in the classroom. Later, Dr. Mullan was outraged at the conditions he discovered when he began to practice. He helped found the Student Health Organization, organized the Controversial Medical Collective at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx, and struggled to offer improved medical care to those who needed it most and could afford it least.
This landmark book charts the state of medical school and practices in the 1960s and 70s. This new edition is updated with a preface in which Dr. Mullan reflects on the changes in the medical field over the last thirty-plus years.
Fitzhugh Mullan is Murdock Head Professor of Medicine and Health Policy at George Washington University. He worked at the U.S. Public Health Service where he attained the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (1991-1996). Dr. Mullan is the co-founder of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the author of numerous books, including Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service, and his most recent book, Narrative Matters: The Power of the Personal Essay in Health Policy.