Can we use the f-word of history? Why understanding precisely what one is opposing will help dissent; how the trauma of WWII helped blur the European colonial past; and history in the making in Belarus.
Senior editor at Eurozine.
Physical fear and the dread of disappointment have been the dominant emotions whenever elections have come around in Belarus in the past two-and-a-half decades. This time is no different. And yet something has changed.
‘We aren’t telling you what we think – we’re showing you what we know’
An interview with Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins
Bellingcat’s pathbreaking work on the shooting down of MH17 and on chemical weapons use in Syria has led to open source investigation being recognized as a vital journalistic technique. Eurozine talks to Bellingcat founder and director Eliot Higgins about both stories and the disinformation around them.
The recent embarrassment of the ‘New York Times’ over its story on Kremlin-orchestrated disinformation on US health science felt like the nail in the coffin of the ‘all roads lead to Putin’ narrative. Common sense now says that the new propaganda thrives best under democratic conditions.
The coronavirus pandemic took the spotlight from the refugee crisis on the Greek border with Turkey in early March long before a political solution could be reached. Now, the two situations have merged into a poly-crisis.
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.
Disinformation, hyper-partisanship and the limits of regulation
Eurozine podcast pt. 1: The changing face of the media
Regulation of media platforms has become an increasingly popular response to the challenges posed by disinformation and hyper-partisanship. But does regulation set a new set of traps for free speech and media diversity? And is it even adequate to the problem?
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.
Consensus and controversy
Literature in a politicized age
In a politicized age, literary debate seems to be seeking consensus. But many still argue that the task of writers is to voice what would otherwise be seen as unacceptable. Today, the question is as much about how literature is talked about as what it talks about.
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.
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 future was next to you’
An interview with Ivan Krastev on ’89 and the end of liberal hegemony
Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that illiberalism in central eastern Europe today is part of a global contestation of western liberal hegemony. In an interview with Eurozine, Krastev elaborates on this thesis, discussing what happened to the hopes of ’89, why dissidence cannot be equated with anti-capitalism or even liberalism, and why explaining the new authoritarianism as a backlash against the ‘imitation imperative’ is not to trivialize its ideological substance.
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.
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.
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?