Decades of cuts to public health are now exposed as the spread of the coronavirus overwhelms the system. Europe has been lucky to observe hurricanes, floods and plagues of the past decades from afar, but geography or wealth doesn’t safeguard us from epidemics. How we treat our least powerful now will be telling about what we can hope for.
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The technoliberationism that accompanied the early days of the web now belongs to myth. Deleting Facebook is the new rebellion. Surveillance capitalism is the buzzword. Regulating is radical. Introducing the new Eurozine focal point ‘Big Tech: The law of power?’
Thinking about ‘what to do’ about disinformation means understanding information’s positive quality as a public good. Abandoning a purely reactive strategy will stand democracies in better stead. Contributions to the new Eurozine focal point ‘Information: A public good’ reflect this way of thinking.
The illiberal backlash cannot be sanitized through conventional political morality: liberal democracy must redefine itself in order to win back credibility. Literature and literary debate are not necessarily where that process will start. But if they succumb to dogmatism, it is hard to see where else free thought will flourish.
Speculation may not be the best approach in a trial, but it can be useful for making sense of seemingly nonsensical events happened the way they did. Our authors try their luck in explaining new authoritarianism, the loneliness of online socializing, and women’s advancement in politics.
The 2010s in 10 articles
This decade brought us revolutions, crises and strong backlashes too. But although it’s easy for authoritarians to prey on societies in turmoil, the popular demand for equality and a liveable future do not dissolve, even under tyranny.
The joker, the trickster and the prankster
A vaudeville figure has been reinstated to lead Britain through Brexit, while in the US a reality-tv star is being impeached for trying to blackmail a comedian in Ukraine. Comedy seems to have taken over the wheel in political leadership. But the quality of this entertainment varies greatly.
The description of the European Union as a ‘peace project’ recalls an important aspect of the genesis of post-war Europe. But a defence of Europe based on anti-fascism runs into dead ends – both conceptually and politically – if it sees European integration as a ‘post-national’ movement.
The share economy, although originally built on the logic of mutual help, has been weaponized by monopolistic enterprises to foster precarity, gentrification and political deception. But this doesn’t mean that trading in goodwill was a bad idea in the first place. Eurozine is the proof itself.
Commemoration risks becoming ideology-lite if it makes the fall of the Berlin Wall synonymous with the collapse of communism. Only real dialogue with the other side of the former Iron Curtain can save the West from parochialism.
The moral and existential tenor of ecological politics today makes Günther Anders’s definition of the ‘third industrial revolution’ seem more contemporary than its much more recent sociological counterpart. This is a positive sign for climate politics and climate journalism.
Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai was listed among the most influential teenagers in the world. Her position is now contested by climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thankfully, they don’t compete with each other for fame. They do, however, challenge assumptions about what can and cannot be done in politics. Especially by girls.
Media professionals often engage in a collective hysteria. They complain about their loss of authority, signalling a deep unwillingness to take responsibility for our trade’s failures and, often, complicity. And yet, the ‘post-truth era’ is not a death toll of journalism, but the signal of a necessary change.
Paradox is the predominant mode in recent articles on 1989. As historical distance brings greater perspicacity on the past thirty years, so received ideas clash with facts, sharpening the focus for real contradictions.
Although on the rise, popular engagement with EU politics is still a poor reflection on European democracy. International coverage maintains a narrow focus, despite important and uneven developments in national politics throughout the Union. Eurozine’s series on the EP elections addresses this deficit.
Police violence, mass detentions, internet shutdown, arrest of opposition candidates: the reaction to the latest protests in Moscow has been an overreaction even by the standards of the Russian authorities. It seems that the government has good reason to be afraid of putting its popularity to the test. But is it advised to ask what next, given the sheer weight of resistance to democratization in Russia?