Author Archives: thefifthwave

The mirror of Narcissus and the labyrinth of the Minotaur

The fugitive thoughts captured below came to me while I was reading about, then visiting, the city of Vienna, Austria, a place much more famous for its composers and artists than its politicians.  Vienna arose as the Baroque wedding-cake setting … Continue reading

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My interview with Atlantico: Biden, Macron, and a ‘transformed’ America

[The following is the English original of my interview with the French online magazine, Atlantico.  The text has been lightly edited.  The French translation was posted in Atlantico on June 14 at this link:—que-tant-de-personnes-sensees-croient-voir-en-leurs-concitoyens-des-suppots-de-dictatures-potentielles-est-un-revelateur-de-la-psychose-politique-contemporaine-joe-biden-donald-trump-emmanuel-macron-democratie-citoyens-opinion%5D 1. From the outside, in … Continue reading

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The future of freedom

[In 2002, after years of intermittent research, I wrote a book-length essay titled “Freedom: A Question.”  The question in the title concerned the very possibility of individual freedom, and the essay considered the latest data and analysis on the human … Continue reading

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My most excellent cable news adventure

Five days ago I received an email from a person who turned out to be a young woman, I’ll call her “Karma,” inviting me to a television interview on a famous cable news network – let’s call them “Fox.”  I … Continue reading

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Pandemic politics, QAnon, and a note on the elections

[The following is the original English text of my interview with Jeff Yates of Quebec’s ICI Radio-Canada. The French-language translation can be accessed at The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that the traditional information ecosystem is gone. People have … Continue reading

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France, the pandemic, and the crisis of authority

[The following conversation, recorded May 19 of this year, was hosted by Laurent de St. Martin, member of the French General Assembly for the government party, En Marche, and included David Goodhart, author of The Road to Somewhere, and myself.]

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Fact-checking the president:  A study in post-truth

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asked, and famously did not hang around for an answer.  Lately I have been asking, Pilate-like, about “post-truth” – and the answers, if they exist, are also hard to get at. Post-truth is an old … Continue reading

Posted in democracy, new media | 6 Comments

The revolt of the public in 10 minutes

The following video was my participation in the virtual class “Politics and Populism,” taught by one of my favorite contemporary thinkers, Yascha Mounk, at Johns Hopkins University.  

Posted in democracy, elites, the public | 4 Comments

The pandemic crisis and its consequences: An interview

[The following is the original English version of my recent interview with the French online publication,  It has been lightly edited.  Those who wish to read the French translation can find it here:–pour-les-francais-a-qui-l-on-apprend-a-venerer-l-autorite-etablie-la-revelation-des-failles-de-leurs-elites-politiques-et-scientifiques-a-ete-traumatisante-emmanuel-macron-coronavirus-covid-19-analyste-cia-peuple ]  In recent years, we’ve … Continue reading

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2019: The year revolt went global

Revolt as Consumer Backlash Beyond Washington DC, Donald Trump, and impeachment, there lies a great big world – and that world, at the moment, is being convulsed by a remarkable number of revolts against political authority.  I will let Tyler … Continue reading

Posted in cataclysm, the public | 39 Comments