Abstracts for L'Espill 23 (2006)
The Italian difference
Philosophy in Italy is feeble: in itself and in the face of politics and power. Since Gentile and perhaps Croce, it may be said that philosophy has been practically non-existent in Italy. But there are three important exceptions: Gramsci (although now wasted as a living tradition) and above all the operaismo of Mario Tronti and the difference feminist thinking of Luisa Muraro. These “difference” positions, besides vitalizing the Italian philosophical scene, are the seed of a new philosophy at the global level. The proletarian difference is now an intellectual force that has opened itself to a new social conception of work and to new forms of the production of value. The female difference is the representation of the biopolitical force and also the real production of a social link.
Josep Lluís Barona
Science, democracy, and the global market
The transformation of the democratic system and the new decision scenarios in international relations, alongside the growing role of the techno-scientific industry in the media galaxy, produce a more and more complex horizon, with unprecedented chances and risks. The continuous exclusion of the State as a regulating agency, and the weakening of debate and political representation in the public sphere, are fostering the trend towards an escape from political and democratic control. The winner is the dynamics linked to the profit logic of the financial forces and the military industry. Privatisation of knowledge and of the products of science and technology are now the main threats to democracy.
Territory and/or (common) heritage
Control of territory, the usage and development of the soil, is a far more important question than the mere ownership of it. As a geographer, I don’t have an interventionist propensity at all, but I now consider it a duty to revolt against the growing destruction of our ethnographic, architectural, and natural heritage. The territorial or urban planning rationality, that should be scientific and in-touch with common interests, has quickly been replaced by pure market logic. As proof, we see the small number of large enterprises in charge of private and public building projects. They have no need for a place in government in order to decide on urban planning policy. In the long run, citizens will have to take the heavy burden and the high costs of all this misgovernment. We are transferring to future generations the big trap of an unsustainable model.
The true costs of the real estate boom
Since 1998, we have been witnessing (in the country of Valencia, mainly near the Mediterranean coast) the biggest real estate boom of the last fifty years. It has caused damages and irreversible losses in terms of landscape – coastal and otherwise – along with an aggravation of environmental problems, above all linked to waste collection and water supply. But the end effect is on a grand scale, since the economic model is now moving towards a situation in which tourism and building activity are the core and agriculture and industry are marginal. This is, to be sure, an economy condemned to technological backwardness and narrow productivity. Moreover, the continuous price raising has led to a growing indebtedness that feeds a high risk of a sudden end to the speculative bubble. The slump will then be inevitable.
The fragmented modernity of Walter Benjamin
Walter Benjamin is nowadays beyond discussion. Without him it would be difficult to explain the evolution of contemporary philosophy and cultural critique. It is extremely surprising that as a philosopher Walter Benjamin enjoys this degree of popularity. Reception of his work has been ridden with difficulties. Only in 1972 did the publication of his Complete Works begin. The contents are mainly fragmented, which is not only a by-product of his life – erratic and in exile – but as we shall see here, an element of a coherent critical and formal project, which was already present in his early and more academic texts. An attentive reading of these works demonstrates his close proximity to the form of the essayistic tradition.
Published 29 November 2006
Original in English
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