Newsletter

08/2012


Article of the month: The European dis-Union

Too big to fail? Too crisis-hardened to go under? The collapse of the Soviet Union has something to teach Europe's politicians if another leap from the unthinkable to the inevitable is to be avoided in the case of the EU, argues Ivan Krastev in an article first published in IWMpost.

"The survival of the EU may depend on its leaders' ability to manage the same mix of political, economic and psychological factors that were in play in the process of the Soviet collapse," writes Krastev. One of the lessons to be learnt is that "the major risk to the political project -- in the absence of war or other extreme circumstances -- comes not from destabilization at the periphery but from the revolt at the centre (even if the crisis at the periphery can be infectious). It was Russia's choice to get rid of the Union rather than the Baltic republics' desire to run away from it that determined the fate of the Soviet state. Today, it is Germany's view of what is happening in the Union that will more decisively affect the future of the European project than the troubles of the Greek or Spanish economies. When the 'winners' of integration start to view themselves as its major victims, then it's certain that big trouble is imminent."

The most disturbing lesson, however, is that "in times of threats of disintegration, politicians should bet on flexibility and constrain their natural urge for rigidity and enduring solutions", Krastev suggests. "Unfortunately, at present, European decision-makers are trying to save the Union via policy solutions that radically limit both national governments and the public's choices. [...] The German poet-dissident Wolf Biermann wrote many years ago: 'I can only love what I am also free to leave.' Today's European policy-makers have forgotten this truth. By following inflexible policies that make the price of exit unbearably high, they are increasing rather than limiting risk. For in a major crisis -- as, again, the Soviet collapse teaches -- the popular response to "there is no alternative" can readily become -- any alternative is better."

Ivan Krastev
The European dis-Union
Lessons from the Soviet collapse

This article is available in English


Olympic fever

Anticipating the London Olympic opening ceremony earlier this year, Phil Cohen wrote: "Whatever the exact details of its final content, The Isle of Wonders promises to offer us a mirror of collective self regard, a paradigm of British identity, that, in its very mode of enchantment, cannot be other than a beautifying lie." Whether you enjoyed the orgy of national self-branding or, like us, scented desperation, Cohen's article is an entertaining and perceptive take on the ideology behind the 27 million pound bonanza.

Further articles to alleviate the pervasive Olympic fever include Sports journalist and historian Mihir Bose on the gulf between the human rights rhetoric of the IOC and the reality; Teresa Scassa on why Olympic IP law disadvantages community stakeholders; and, from the archives, Brian Glanville on the Tlatelolco massacre during the 1968 Mexico City games.

Phil Cohen on culture and kitsch in London 


New focal point: Arrivals/Departures -- European harbour cities

Harbour cities as places of immigration and emigration, inclusion and exclusion, develop distinct modes of being that not only reflect different cultural traditions and political and social self-conceptions, but also contain economic potential and communicate how they see themselves as part of the larger structure that is "Europe".

In an new focal point anticipating the topic of the 2012 Eurozine conference in Hamburg, contributors discuss economic, cultural and historical aspects of European and global harbour cities. Including Marcus Rediker on European harbour cities' role in the slave trade; Olivier Mongin on ports as points of juncture in the globalized transport network; Franco Bianchini, and Jude Bloomfield on the "porous cities" of Istanbul, Liverpool, Marseilles and Naples; and Anthony Iles on London's connections between shipping, logistics and finance.

All articles in the focal point Arrivals/Departures


New Eurozine partner: Schweizer Monat

Schweizer Monat, the Swiss monthly for politics, economics and culture, has joined the Eurozine network. Founded in 1921, the journal draws on a long history as a liberal voice, which it continues to be in its current form under the editorship of René Scheu, Florian Rittmeyer and Michael Wiederstein.

Economists Karl Popper, Wilhelm Röpke and Friedrich August von Hayek published many essays in its predecessor journal Schweizer Monatshefte, while Theodor Adorno, Hermann Hesse and Herbert Lüthy were among those to establish the journal's reputation in Europe.

More on Schweizer Monat, including the current issue


New articles

Eurozine Review
Very, very, very bad for democracy
"Letras Libres" talks to Mario Vargas Llosa about cultural decline; "Rigas Laiks" talks to Michael Ignatieff about Isaiah Berlin; "Kulturos barai" talks to John Cobb about homo economicus; "Gegenworte" talks to Abbas Khider about borders; "Blätter" wants Utopia and it wants it now; "Syn og Segn" isn't happy about the Lex Breivik; "Dilema veche" rallies against a political attack on culture; and "Revolver Revue" unleashes a righteous philatelic fury.
01.08.2012

This article is available in English

Abbas Khider, Wolfert von Rahden
"The foreign language means freedom"
An interview with Iraqi-German writer Abbas Khider
Writing in a foreign language allows Abbas Khider to communicate free from "concealed prohibitions" and to describe conditions in his home country without "suffering linguistically". An interview with "Gegenworte" on cultural, geographic and linguistic frontiers.
31.07.2012

This article is available in German

Michael Ignatieff, Ieva Lesinska
Freedom is a chilly virtue
Michael Ignatieff talks about Isaiah Berlin
"It's not justice, it's not equality, it's not a warm bath." In Riga to deliver the annual Isaiah Berlin lecture, Michael Ignatieff talks to Ieva Lesinska, editor of "Rigas Laiks", about Berlin's definition of freedom, politics and the freedom not to be political.
31.07.2012

This article is available in English

John B. Cobb, Almantas Samalavicius
Beyond contemporary economic thinking
A conversation with John B. Cobb
John B. Cobb, Methodist theologian and longstanding critic of the of the political-economic establishment, talks about his communitarian and ecology-based critique of neoliberalism and the potential for world religions to inform an alternative.
31.07.2012

This article is available in English

Marcus Rediker
Ghosts on the waterfront
An interview with Marcus Rediker
Historian Marcus Rediker describes the sailing ship as linchpin of the emergent transatlantic economic order and instrument of terror for slaves transported from Africa, going on to discuss European harbour cities' role in the slave trade and their responsibilities in reckoning with its moral legacy.
27.07.2012

This article is available in English

Stefan Jonsson
The contained
The container is the universal unit of the global commodity society, facilitating the swift exchange of all kinds of product. Precarity, likewise, connotes a basic form of labour that submissively and flexibly adjusts to any form of employment and system of production.
27.07.2012

This article is available in English and Swedish

Olivier Mongin
Mega-ports
On the new geography of containerization
Ports as junctures in the globalized transport network, operating mechanisms of access and arrest; the oceans remapped by containerization, cargo-shipping setting the pace of world commerce; harbours as decontextualized zones, nautical memories recycled for heritage.
27.07.2012

This article is available in English

Ivan Krastev
The European dis-Union
Lessons from the Soviet collapse
Too big to fail? Too crisis-hardened to go under? The collapse of the Soviet Union has something to teach Europe's politicians if another leap from the unthinkable to the inevitable is to be avoided in the case of the EU, argues Ivan Krastev.
26.07.2012

This article is available in English

Levente Polyák
Coherent fragmentation
Finding and remembering in Central Europe's confused cities
Its identity located somewhere between nostalgia and commerce, the dilapidated and the gentrified, the Central European city mixes languages, words and signs to form a style best described as radical eclecticism, writes Levente Polyák.
20.07.2012

This article is now available in English and German

Ludger Schwarte
An assembly of the people
Cities are defined not by numbers of inhabitants, square footage or population density, but by tensions, possibilities and controversies. Ludger Schwarte on the massive influence exerted by urban architecture on how politics is played out.
18.07.2012

This article is available in German

Eurozine Review
A uniquely soporific streak
"Sarajevo Notebook" remembers the siege obliquely; "Merkur" plumbs the depths of tedium; "Dublin Review of Books" re-assesses the right to know; "Free Speech Debate" defends the losers of Olympic IP law; "Roots" returns to a perennial question; "Polar" syllogizes cities; "Osteuropa" looks warily at the cultural messianism of Russkiy Mir; "Blätter" rises to the global-social challenge; "Krytyka Polityczna" talks to artists with crazy ideas that might just work.
18.07.2012

This article is available in English

Teresa Scassa
Guilt by association
Legislation allowing the Olympic organizers to control the "association" of the games with approved products -- required by the IOC as a condition of a successful bid -- disadvantages the community stakeholders of major sporting events, argues Teresa Scassa.
17.07.2012

This article is available in English

Jorge L. Contreras
The downside to open access
Why information philanthropy is bad for the South
The impact of open access publishing models on the developing world is uncertain, writes Jorge L. Contreras. Until "information philanthropy" is supplanted by self-sufficient, south-focused open-access journals, the potential of developing world scientists will not be fully realized.
17.07.2012

This article is available in English

Alma Lazarevska
Blessed be the day
Bosnian novelist Alma Lazarevska remembers the siege of Sarajevo obliquely, as the background to a personal loss unconnected to the plight of the city. She thereby implicitly critiques the politicization of the siege, which is commemorated this year.
17.07.2012

This article is available in English and Bosnian

Thomas E. Schmidt
The physicist
On tedium in German politics
German politics is defined by a tedium in which all influential actors strive to maintain consensus between the economy and politics. Angela Merkel is the apotheosis of this political culture, explains Thomas E. Schmidt.
16.07.2012

This article is available in German

Denko Maleski
Law, politics and history in international relations
Macedonia and Greece
At the moment of the Macedonian nation's greatest victory, independence, "the name issue became the new symbol of our defeat", regrets Denko Maleski. Predictably enough, those in Macedonia to benefit were the nationalist Right, thus confirming Greek fears.
16.07.2012

This article is available in English and Macedonian

Anthony Iles
What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river
London's relationship to water and to the sea remains central to its role in the global economy and vital to a gamble in which the Olympics play a part, argues Anthony Iles. On the connections between shipping, logistics and the hi-speed, only apparently immaterial world of finance.
13.07.2012

This article is available in English

Mikela Lundahl
The simple Gothenburger
Colonial elisions in the Swedish self-image
The re-launch of an historical merchant ship was supposed to promote Sweden's image as reliable trading partner. But the failure to acknowledge the colonial involvements of the ship's former owner suggests a less flattering story, writes Mikela Lundahl.
13.07.2012

This article is available in English

Klas Rönnbäck
Traces of ignominy
Gothenburg's French block and Sweden's hunt for colonies
Gothenburg's Franska tomten neighbourhood takes its name from a French warehouse established in the eighteenth century through a colonial trade-off between the French and Swedish crowns. Today, the name's origins are largely forgotten, writes Klas Rönnbäck.
13.07.2012

This article is available in English

Dominique Weber
Piratical transgressions, political transgressions
Re-reading Carl Schmitt's "Theory of the partisan"
Recent historiography emphasizing the egalitarian-democratic character of eighteenth-century piracy undermines Carl Schmitt's quasi-legal distinction between partisan and pirate and reinstates the pirate as political actor within the emergent maritime state order.
13.07.2012

This article is available in English and French

Franco Bianchini, Jude Bloomfield
Porous cities
Istanbul, Liverpool, Marseille, Naples
Walter Benjamin's description of Naples as a "porous city" absorbent of heterogeneity applies equally to other harbour cities, write Jude Bloomfield and Franco Bianchini. On cultural hybridity, economies of informality and strategies of creativity in four European ports.
13.07.2012

This article is available in English

Enda O'Doherty
Tickled to death
The Leveson Enquiry into the UK hacking scandal is drawing to a close, yet the future of a new press regulatory body remains controversial. Enda O'Doherty asks what the enquiry's findings mean for a definition of journalistic standards and the proper relation between politics and media.
10.07.2012

This article is available in English

Kenan Malik
The last crusade
The claim that Christianity embodies the bedrock of European cultural values simplifies both the history of Christianity and the roots of democracy, argues Kenan Malik. Ironically, the defenders of "Christendom" draw on the same politics of identity as Islamists and multiculturalists.
10.07.2012

This article is now available in English and Slovenian

Christian Calliess, Henrik Enderlein, Joschka Fischer, Ulrike Guérot, Jürgen Habermas
Europe and the "new German question"
Political elites are not delivering Europe to its citizens, says Jürgen Habermas in a panel discussion on the renationalization of Europe. Is Germany's perceived withdrawal from the common European project at the heart of the current crisis?
10.07.2012

This article is now available in English and Polish

Valentina Mironska-Hristovska
Between politics and truth
Nowhere is the politics of history more vexed than in the conflict over the name "Macedonia". Valentina Mironska-Hristovska presents the Macedonian position, arguing that the Greek claim to the historical-cultural legacy of Macedonia is, at heart, paradoxical.
06.07.2012

This article is available in English and Macedonian

Mihir Bose
Sport v human rights
Sports journalist and historian Mihir Bose measures the lip service paid to civil rights by sports officials over the last 150 years against actions taken. Of all sporting associations, it is the rhetoric of the IOC that bears the least relation to reality, he writes.
04.07.2012

This article is available in English

Eurozine Review
The Vatican of sport
"Krytyka" tracks the rise and rise of FEMEN; "Index on Censorship" puts sport on trial; "L'Homme" gazes at spectacular women; "New Humanist" asks whether Mormonism will matter in November; "Mehr Licht" burlesques meditations on Albanian national identity; "L'Espill" pays tribute to Joan Fuster, the critical Catalanist; "Dilema veche" detects waning Francophone influence; and "Dialogi" jogs folk memories of Maribor's ancient heritage.
04.07.2012

This article is available in English

Anneke Ribberink
Maggification – a personal reading
The historiography of Margaret Thatcher's theatre of politics
Margaret Thatcher's creation of her own "spectacle of perfection" has not gone unchallenged in biographies. Anneke Ribberink looks at the varying degrees of sympathy with which historians and journalists have portrayed aspects of Thatcher's persona.
03.07.2012

This article is available in English

Abby Ohlheiser
Mormon momentum
Because Evangelicals still treat Mormons with deep suspicion, Mitt Romney has been deploying the language of "common ground" to unite the Republican vote, writes Abby Ohlheiser. Alongside opposition to same-sex marriage, common ground includes a religious persecution complex.
03.07.2012

This article is available in English

Marian J. Rubchak
The charge of the pink brigade
FEMEN and the campaign for gender justice in Ukraine
Is FEMEN the precursor of a bold new protest pattern, or has it been reduced to an organization of exhibitionists? As long as gender injustices multiply in Ukraine, the strength of FEMEN's message remains undiminished, argues Marian Rubchak.
03.07.2012

This article is available in English and Ukrainian

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Eurozine Newsletter: 08/2012
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