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Seyla Benhabib

Critique of humanitarian reason

Never have there been more refugees in the world as today: an estimated 45 million in total. So what's the current relationship between international law, emancipatory politics and the rights of the rightless? Seyla Benhabib on the urgent need to create new political vistas. [Estonian version added] [ more ]

Martha Albertson Fineman, Mirjam Katzin

The human condition

Camille Robcis, Aro Velmet

Universalist politics and its crises

Robin Detje

Impertinence, beauty, opposition

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"Kultura Liberalna" speaks to Anne Applebaum; "Osteuropa" analyses Poland's conservative revolution; "Wespennest" devotes an issue to the charismatic hormone, testosterone; "Esprit" wonders what's next after western Middle East fatigue; "Arena" asks if art is important; "Merkur" listens to echoes of Victor Hugo; and "RozRazil" goes to the pub.

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"Psychoanalysis on horseback"

Merkur exposes envy's inner workings; Arena debates prostitution and biopolitics; dérive mobilizes the city; Dialogi enters the battlefield of psychotherapy; Magyar Lettre Internationale puts Austria-Hungary on the couch; Kulturos barai seeks Lithuania in Europe and Europe in Lithuania; NZ deconstructs the post-Soviet intelligentsia; and du journeys to Andrea Camilleri's Sicily.

Merkur 11/2006

In Merkur, sociologist Friedrich Pohlmann writes on the Islamic cult of the suicide bomber. He rejects the "popular Western view" that sees the willingness to commit suicide as a reaction to economic and social distress. This he calls "a dominant petty bourgeois variant of European economic rationalism" that "explains just as little as the claim that suicide attacks are the response to increased oppression in Palestine". Instead, it is "the saturation of Islamic societies with the cult of death that explains the apparently inexhaustible reservoir of suicide bombers".

The West's "subterranean" fascination with suicide bombers results from a lack perceived when the "spirit of critical self-reflection gives way to postmodern randomness and indifference towards one's own culture and history". On the basis of historical comparison, this shift, along with the demographic fact of an ageing population, "increases the probability of intercultural violence in the future".

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The politics of an emotion: Sociologist Rainer Paris writes on "Envy". The theory goes that with the disappearance of the performance ethic – formerly society's way of legitimizing mechanisms of social inequality – and the rise of the success ethic together with the culture of celebrity, envy is left to spread unchecked. But accusing one's opponent of envy is a common tactic of contemporary political rhetoric, writes Paris. Alleged enviers are ostracized while those who accuse others unite.

"Whether or not a request is legitimate, a demand justified, a political argument convincing is completely independent of the emotions and the passions that motivate the protagonists. [...] To disqualify the envier is ultimately an easy way to avoid having to confront his arguments."

Also to look out for: Siegfried Kohlhammer argues that it isn't geography, climate, or economic policy that decides the success of a country, but culture; and Karl Heinz Bohrer is exasperated by Günter Grass and the moralism of the postwar German Left.

The full table of contents of Merkur 11/2006.

Arena 5/2006

The cover story of the new Arena continues the journal's quest to break the taboos characterizing the Swedish debate on prostitution. Pundit Petra Östergren's essay "The untouchables" shows how sex-sellers are not only stigmatized in everyday life but also silenced in the political debate.

On the cover, Östergren's article is presented with the words "Victims of the Left: Hookers without a voice", and she does claim that it is particularly the Left who has failed to listen to the experiences of the sex-workers. This has led to a Swedish prostitution law that is one of the strictest in Europe.

The Swedish policy on prostitution, writes Östergren, serves to confirm the nation's image of itself as the moral conscience of the world. When this image – built on neutrality, Olof Palme's strong criticism of the war in Vietnam, and the support for the ANC in South Africa – threatens to crack, the prostitution issue offers an opportunity for Sweden to again act as a "moral lighthouse". Inger Segelström, Social Democratic member of the European Parliament, gives her answer to why other countries legalize prostitution while Sweden criminalizes it (obviously surprised by the question): "But we are more developed than the rest of the world."

Cloning: True to its radical stance, Arena seeks complex answers to a complex issue. To clone a human being today would be deeply unethical, writes British science journalist Arlene Judith Klotzko. But what if the technique develops, and the risks become no greater than those of other methods of reproduction? To take a mere instinctive stand against cloning as a future means of reproduction – "cloning is unnatural", "scientists are playing God" – is not the same as having a moral standpoint, says Klotzko.

Continuing the biopolitical focus, political commentator Mats Engström observes the religious war on embryonic stem-cell research, not only in the US but also in Europe. "How many votes does the Pope have in the European parliament?" he asks. "None, according to the constitution. But in reality many, as shown by the debate on stem-cell research this summer."

The full table of contents of Arena 5/2006.

dérive 25 (2006)

Mobility and the city are inseparable and dialectic, writes editor Erik Meinharter in the Austrian journal for urban research. "Mobility of people and goods shapes the city to the same extent that the existing urban structure enables or precludes forms of mobility."

Architect Yona Friedman's 1960s avant-garde manifesto Architecture mobile and its elaboration in La ville spatiale envision megastructures built above existing cities. The inhabitants, a "mobile society", create a flexible spatial and social world. But is it an illusion to imagine inhabitants capable of constructing a city based on individual preferences? "Yes", answers Friedman in interview, "the friendly and enlightened user [of a city] is an illusion. But I don't mind. The user can be stupid. If you look at people on the street, they aren't necessarily well-dressed, but the general impression is rich and variegated. So many stupid users would produce a multi-faceted landscape."

But can this concept of participation, choice, and openness be universal or does it depend on the context in which it operates? "For me it is a universal principle. Not just in architecture. In reality, in physics and mathematics [...] one doesn't know what will happen next. There is no rule that tells you what the next step will bring. This is the definition of the erratic. This is also a principle in social behaviour. You don't know how people will behave. Everything is possible, at every moment. That is the erratic structure of reality."

Also on urban mobility: texts on the potential of streets as places of public interaction, the train station as passage space, and "critical walking" in the city.

The full table of contents of dérive 25 (2006).

Dialogi 9/2006

"How is it possible that one of humanity's biggest problems, environmental pollution, is regulated by the modest Kyoto Protocol, which requires only a negligible decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases, while the regulation of the incidental problem of smoking resembles a witch-hunt and a farce?" Thus asks Bostjan Lah in his editorial, identifying today's obsessive anti-smoking campaign as a result of a post-consumer society intensifying its control over citizens.

Psychotherapy: If one asks what the status of psychotherapy is in modern society with respect to the dominant modern sciences, the question can be answered in two words: a necessity and a battle. Psychotherapy is a necessity in a society where more and more is expected of a person against the backdrop of an assumed freedom. And psychotherapeutic activities appear as a battlefield for a number of scientific disciplines that try to adopt psychotherapy as their sub-discipline and refuse to allow it to be established as an independent discipline and social activity.

Guest editor Karolina Babic presents a wide-ranging thematic collection of articles on the subject: psychotherapy's historical background; its current status in Slovenia and abroad; its modes of operation and effectiveness; its successes and failures; and its self-perception. Articles on the subject are contributed by Slovene psychoanalysts Janko Bohak, Miran Mozina, Leonida Kobal Mozina, Alen Latini, Danijela Mrzlekar Svetel, and Paul Pass from Graz, Austria.

Art: Earlier this year, the Gallery of Modern Art in Ljubljana held an exhibition on OHO, one of the leading Slovene neo-avant-garde groups, active from the 1960s to the 1970s. Nenad Jelesijevic reflects on the avant-garde and the problems associated with the archiving of artistic works in modern conditions of production. And Boris Vezjak talks to squatters in the Rog plant, a former bicycle factory in Ljubljana, about their plans for turning the premises into an autonomous public space for independent cultural and artistic activities.

The full table of contents of Dialogi 9/2006.

Magyar Lettre Internationale 62 (2006)

In an issue of Magyar Lettre Internationale on Freud and psychoanalysis, Erös Ferenc sees the Austro-Hungarian empire through Freud's correspondence with psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi. "Hungary, geographically so close to Austria yet scientifically so alien, has given psychoanalysis only one colleague, though one worth a whole society", wrote Freud about Ferenczi. And from Ferenczi, we learn the following:

Today I conducted a session of analysis on horseback. I am analyzing my commandant, who has been neurotic since suffering a head wound in Galicia, but who in reality suffers from libido difficulties. So, the first hippic analysis in the history of the world! What by-products the war brings about!

Archive, pilgrimage, or peepshow? Michael Molnar, director of the Freud Museum London, defines the function of the personality museum. Character is not natural history or an object of exhibition and can be evident in the museum only through its absence, writes Molnar. To create identity from inanimate objects – an uncanny project – has something of the illicit about it:

Monstrosities and marvels, the transgressive displays which were traditional from the Wunderkammer down to recent times, are now disapproved of in reputable museums. [...] They served an epistemological function – to 'wake the viewers from their dogmatic slumbers' – and their equivalent is still necessary. Classification systems on which accepted knowledge is founded should be questioned and undermined in museums today.

Also to look out for: Dragan Klaic reviews the memoirs of the late Serbian poet Djordje Lebovic. Lebovic fled from Zagreb to Budapest in 1943 and from there was deported to Auschwitz by the Hungarian Arrow Cross. "The camp experience made Lebovic even more what he was in his Zagreb and Sombor childhood: a detached and lonely observer, who keeps his doubts and uncertainties to himself."

The full table of contents of Magyar Lettre Internationale 62 (2006).

Kulturos barai 10/2006

What is authenticity? asks sociologist Rasa Balockaite, analyzing the debate on Lithuanian national identity and its connection to Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, she notes, when the Soviet regime was proclaimed a historical mistake and the nationalist rhetoric of 1918-1940 was not appropriate, there was no living tradition one could draw on. Philosopher Vytautas Rubavicius aids her in the quest for national identity: "When Lithuania entered Nato and the EU, the basis for a European national identity was created. However, the question remains: does society and its political elite understand the meaning of an autopoesis of national identity? Do we have a politics for its creation?"

The staging of noted author Juozas Glinskis' new play "Child of one father" provokes scathing critique from theatre critic Grazyna Mareckaite: the director, Gytis Padegimas, failed to convey its meaning. Glinskis, who is known as the pioneer of the Lithuanian ³theatre of cruelty², received the highest Lithuanian award for the play.

Poetry: At the age of nine, Lithuanian-born Aldona Gustas fled Russian-occupied Lithuania with her mother while her father was deported to Siberia. Having lived in Berlin since 1941, she writes in German but attempts to recapture the essence of her Lithuanian childhood in her poems. Gustas not only suffered physical exile but also cultural and linguistic isolation in Berlin, where she had little contact with other Lithuanians. Today, a language barrier separates her from her native land.

Also to look out for: an article on the emigration archive of the famous Lithuanian art historian Mikolajus Vorobjovas; and a discussion on the state of the humanities between philosophers and historians from Vilnius University and Bronys Savukynas, editor-in-chief of Kulturos barai.

The full table of contents of Kulturos barai 10/2006.

Neprikosnovennij Zapas 47 (3/2006)

Moscow journal Neprikosnovennij Zapas publishes a section on the definition and social responsibility of the intelligentsia. A translation of Jürgen Habermas's Bruno Kreisky Prize speech on new media and the public intellectual is followed by Yevgeny Sabarov on the relation of the Russian intelligentsia and the new middle class; while an article by Aleksandr Kustarev on the narrative and rhetorical devices used by the late- and post-Soviet intelligentsia to construct a social and cultural identity generates a number of controversial responses.

A second section, entitled "Constructing the future: the Belarus project", discusses the experiment in state engineering underway in the country. In "Belarus: An eastern European paradox", Yaroslav Shimov traces the unique political situation of Belarus to the peripheral position it has traditionally taken; Fedor Lukyanov and Yuri Drakokhrust deal with the Russian-Belarusian relationship; and philologist Alexander Feduta, currently an opponent of the Lukashenko regime, examines textbooks on state ideology, now the main subject taught in Belarusian schools.

Plus: A long article by Pavel Polan describes how in 1940 Stalin refused to accept several million Jews uprooted by Hitler; activist Aleksandr Tarasov writes on the emerging crisis within the anti-globalization movement; and a new section devotes space to debate around previous issues of NZ.

The full table of contents of Neprikosnovennij Zapas 47 (3/2006).

du 10/2006

"It was a magic word. Whenever the photographer Reto Camenisch said the name 'Andrea Camilleri', the doors in Porto Empedocle opened to him, the people posed for pictures without being asked." In the latest du, Camenisch's photo reportage takes us on a journey to Porto Empedocle, the birthplace of the famous mystery writer and creator of Commissario Montalbano. The images show the people and places from which Camilleri draws his inspiration.

A detailed chronicle of Camilleri's life is illustrated with photos from his private archive and his personal anecdotes: from Camilleri's birth during the festival of St Calogero ("For me there exists no heaven or hell, and I also don't believe in life after death, but I must honestly say, in my abandoned 'heaven' there is one person, and that is St Calogero."); to his reasons for leaving Sicily ("I felt as if I was living in a sunken submarine, from which I was sending my messages in a bottle. The idea of moving away forced itself upon me: in Sicily there were no magazines, no chances of survival, at least not in this field."); to his work as a film director ("I resist sudden inspiration while directing. For me the director does nothing more than interpret the text, exactly as an orchestra conductor interprets a score."); and finally to his own writing.

In an article by Jacqueline Schärli on Commissario Montalbano, Camilleri talks about his ambivalent relationship with the fictional detective: "If I hadn't invented this character, I would have remained a writer with a circulation of 10 000 copies, which is actually a lot in Italy, but I would not have exceeded this limit. At the same time, he irritates me: because he is such a vivid character for my readers, he is my master in the end."

Last but not least: "The slow train", a text written by Camilleri exclusively for du.

The full table of contents of du 10/2006.

This is just a selection of the more than 50 Eurozine partners published in 32 countries. For current tables of contents, self-descriptions, and subscription and contact details of all Eurozine partners, please see the partner section.


Published 2006-11-07

Original in English
© Eurozine

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