When the financial crisis made clear the extent of western banks’ involvement in eastern Europe, concerns surfaced about the effects on western economies, re-awakening perceptions of the East as unruly and unpredictable. In the East, meanwhile, suspicions were reinforced that the West was interested in the new EU member states only insofar as they provided an opportunity to expand existing markets. What are the ethical and political implications of a globalized economy in general, and of western companies’ expansion in eastern Europe in particular? What does the European integration project really mean, not only economically but also at a social and cultural level? Romanian economist Daniel Daianu met Austrian author Robert Misik in Bucharest to discuss whether the failure of existing political and economic structures has opened up a new-old East-West divide. Moderated by Mircea Vasilescu, editor of Dilema veche and Carl Henrik Fredriksson of Eurozine.
Shopping malls simulate the buzz of city centres and create an atmosphere appropriate for consuming. Everything is planned in advance and controlled; appropriation or adaptation of the space by passers-by is both impossible and forbidden. This rebounds on city centres: prettified, scrubbed, and tidied, they increasingly adopt the mall aesthetic. And in a final twist, malls have begun building reconstructions of city streets.
World improvement reloaded
Among the most fatal aberrations of recent decades is that free-market liberals have assumed the mantle of economic competence, argues Robert Misik. The Left needs to go on the offensive and prove that egalitarian economies are also stronger and more productive.