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The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek has gained something of a cult following for his many writings – including The Ticklish Subject, a playful critique of the intellectual assault upon human subjectivity. At the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2001, he talked to Sabine Reul and Thomas Deichmann about subjectivity, multiculturalism, sex and unfreedom after 11 September.

A brief news story obliges the author to give up an old dream. The chronicle of erratic trips in the era of the Cold War is mixed in this article with the realities of our hot war. Who now remembers how one travelled from a communist country to the West? What does this past have to do with the immigrants of today and the terrorists of yesterday?

Democracy, particularly liberal democracy is a great philosophy of inclusion. Rule of the people, by the people, for the people; and where “people” is supposed to mean (unlike in earlier days) everybody – without the unspoken restrictions of yesteryear: peasants, women, slaves, etc. – this offers the prospect of the most inclusive politics of human history. And yet, there is also something in the dynamic of democracy which pushes to exclusion. This was allowed full rein in earlier forms of this régime, as among the ancient poleis and republics; but today is a great cause of malaise. I want in this paper first, to explore this dynamic, and then to look at various ways of compensating for it, or minimizing it.

Marx's Mole is Dead!

Globalisation and Communication

Drawing on their book Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri show how the resistance of the working class has prefigured the globalisation of capital. Now, they contend, we face a new, universal order that accepts no boundaries or limits – Empire. The local focus of a nostalgic Left is in this situation both false and damaging.

Returning to Reality

Culture, Modernisation and Various Eastern Europes

The “clash of civilisations” as largely a function of uneven modernisation suggests that it will not last much longer, which advocates a return to the older tradition of functional-evolutionary theorists. In Europe, Daniel Chirot warns that the differentiation between “East” and “Central” Europe draws a new border between “East” and “West” which will result in excluding the poorer parts of Europe and will keep them poorer in delaying their modernisation.

Confessions of a converted dissident

Essay for the Erasmus Prize 2001

For us, Europeans behind the Iron Curtain, the idea of Europe was simply a rejection of the Communist project, writes Adam Michnik: freedom instead of servitude, open borders and legality instead of the Berlin Wall and preventive censorship. This vision obviously contained an idealisation of both the practice of the European Union and of its theoretical foundations.

The fair of tolerance

Essay for the Erasmus Prize 2001

Tolerance and its contradictions constitute a universal problem, which today confronts both conscience and legislation with an urgency hitherto unparalleled in history, writes Claudio Magris. A united Europe will find its universal principles – the core of a tolerance that is more than nobly rhetorical – put to a severe test. Only if the objective difficulties are not underrated can one hope to overcome them.

The Cosmopolitan State

Towards a Realistic Utopia

The global terrorist threat is part of the risk society and blurs the distinction between internal and external security. Ulrich Beck concludes that in order to be able to deal with their national problems today’s states have to de-nationalise and transnationalise themselves.

"Blood, sperm and tears"

Sexual Violence in War

The societal condemnation of sexual crimes as a war-time practice is slowly growing as the victims raise the courage to speak out.

The democracies of today can remain democracies only if they are able to negotiate pluralism and communality, conflict and justice, rationality and identity. What must we do to meet this challenge, asks Göran Rosenberg and presents a possible answer: federation. But where are the political thinkers and leaders who could formulate and win popular support for a power-sharing treaty in Europe?

In his analysis of the Ukrainian media landscape and its preconditions, Mykola Ryabchuk maintains that “a situation, when people have plenty of rights on paper but cannot employ them in reality has largely persisted in the post-Soviet space. The only substantial difference between the post-Soviet states and the Soviet Union is that the latter had had a compulsory ideology”. Rather than painting a negative or positive future in conclusion, he reminds that there is a future yet to be shaped.

Re-Inventing Skenderbeg

Albanian Nationalism and NATO Neo-colonialism

Skenderbeg as a national hero of Albania is just one sign of “history-making” in Albania and Serbia. Fatos Lubonja writes on how the creation of national myths and memories over the centuries has provided the seedbed for the conflicts in the Balkans, but that such memories can also show the way to an open society and provide hope for the future.

Elusive Common Dreams

The perils and hopes of a European identity

Western Europe lives like an isolated family without any feelings for the post-communist states on the same continent, says the Slovene poet and essayist Ales Debeljak. He tries to formulate a defence for a broader conception of Europe and seeks a European “master narrative” that makes the creation of a real European identity possible.

From Tel Aviv to Ulcinj

Can we learn from each other about reconciliation and peace-building?

In 2000, the Serbian journal Rec together with radio B92 published a booklet under the title “Truths, Responsibilties, Reconciliations: The Example of Serbia”. The issues cited in the title emerge as keypoints towards building democracy in a society ravaged by long years of war. The Israeli sociologist Arie Nadler draws parallels between the fromer Yugoslavia and the Middle East and sees that responsibility, reconciliation and the search for truth are not such different issues when applied to different regions and peoples.

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