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The failure of the German extra-parliamentary opposition to reflect upon its gradual slide towards violence led to the leftwing terrorism of the 1970s, writes Christian Semler. It was only with the ecological movement that pacifism came back onto the agenda. For the Left today, the question of the state monopoly on the use of force remains as central as ever.

Cover for: 1968: The year of two springs

Parallels between May ’68 and the Prague Spring are largely the result of the simultaneity of the events; in important respects, the political goals of the two movements were antithetical. Nevertheless, central European dissent had a significant impact on the French anti-totalitarian Left after 1968, argues Jacques Rupnik.

Just as Russia’s economic growth has obviated talk of democracy, the media’s financial successes leave no place for ethical debate. While market imperatives often do the censors’ work for them, counter-examples exist, reports Maria Eismont.

Modes of philosophizing

A round table debate

Should philosophy have something to say to non-philosophers? Should philosophy be pursued only by those trained in philosophy? Should academic teachers of philosophy consider themselves philosophers in virtue of the fact that they teach philosophy? And should analytic philosophers deny that continental philosophers are philosophers at all, or acknowledge that they represent different modes of philosophizing? Cogito poses some big questions to four prominent British and US philosophers.

Between mimesis and non-existence

Lithuania in Europe, Europe in Lithuania

Cultural and political life in Lithuania is marked by what Homi K. Bhabha called an “ironic compromise”, writes Rasa Balockaite. The Lithuanian is “almost a European but not quite”.

Cover for: May '68: a contested history

Despite the tendency of decennial commemorations to cement the “official version” of May ’68, important questions remain unanswered. What exactly was the role of the police in the escalation of the violence (including the much overlooked fatalities in June)? Why did the Renault factory workers reject the concessions obtained in the Grenelle agreements? And was de Gaulle on the point of stepping down when he went to Baden-Baden? Chris Reynolds points out some blind spots in the increasingly stereotyped interpretation of the events in France forty years ago.

"If I don't say what I think, what's the point of being mad?"

A conversation with Catalan philosopher Xavier Rubert de Ventós

“If my philosophy has been of any use to me, it’s been to situate my monstrous condition within an order of general discourse.” Catalan philosopher and former Social Democratic MEP Xavier Rubert de Ventós talks in interview about his allergy to the law, why he finds the reactionary Céline more interesting than the liberal Rawls, and what he means by the “non-Fichtean ego”.

Protester with a banner saying

Large-scale social movements often behave provocatively but with the aim to make more space for democracy. The latest of these is the global justice movement born in Seattle in 1999. Magnus Wennerhag’s new book is the first major Swedish study on the impact of this movement. In the extract Arena publishes here, he shows how it differs from the movements of 1968, being more political and more directed towards international institutions and globalized democracy.

No maths and no water in Stolipinovo

The jobs boom in Bulgaria has left the Roma behind

With the EU accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the Roma became the largest autochthonous ethnic minority within the Union, without this translating into political influence. While there is general agreement at the political level that socio-economic integration of Roma is desirable, neither the EU commission nor the national governments appear to be prepared to implement the necessary strategies to bring this about, writes Nikoleta Popkostadinova.

Citizen Victim

The migrant youth, the RAF terrorist, and the German feuilletons

The alarmist reaction from parts of the German media to a recent spate of violent assaults by migrant youths on “native” Germans – talk has been of a cultural clash – bore striking similarities to last year’s controversy over the release from prison of two former members of the Red Army Faction. In both cases, media sympathy for the “victims” of violence fed directly into political campaigns targeting the majority’s sense of embattlement.

Global museums in the twenty-first century

The Guggenheim foundation and the rhetoric of cultural planning in Vilnius

The fact that a Guggenheim museum is being planned in Vilnius is indicative of the conviction that cultural “de-provincialization” can only be achieved by taking part in global projects. Skaidra Trilupaityte describes how Frank Gehry’s “architectural miracle” in the former backwater of Bilbao marked the start of the Guggenheim Foundation’s policy of expansion that today has cities around the world queuing up to pay the Guggenheim license fee. Meanwhile, writes Trilupaityte, city planners ignore that the cultural needs of the local population are quite different from those of business and the tourist industry. Vilnius is not Bilbao!

bob dylan

Christopher Ricks, professor of humanities at Boston University and professor of poetry at Oxford University, is famous for his close readings of Milton, Keats, and Eliot, and also for his passion for the music of Bob Dylan. This culminated in his book Dylan’s “Visions of Sin” (2003), an analysis of Dylan’s lyrics that had some critics grumble that Ricks could talk one into believing that even a phone book is poetry. Ieva Lesinska, editor of Rigas Laiks, decided to find out for herself.

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