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Who's afraid of Europe?

Opening address at the 14th European Meeting of Cultural Journals

Slavenka Drakulic, a committed European, expresses doubts in the continuing momentum of European integration amidst rising anxieties about a loss of national identity. Mirrored in the success of right-wing and populist parties across Europe and concerns being voiced in the post-communist countries queuing for “entry” as well, this anxiety, however, focuses on a cultural construct, the author argues. To make the project Europe work, a new kind of imagined community will need to be created – is Europe ready for that?

Publicities - domestic and foreign

Podium Statement at the 14th European Meeting of Cultural Journals in Vienna and Bratislava; Saturday November 11, 2000

The Hungarian writer György Dalos reports that the dictum of old remains: It is one thing to fight a verbal war on home ground, and quite another to play such complaints and information to the outside, abroad. However, he argues, there is no longer such a thing as a divided national and international publicity as information can flow freely from country to country, so should the discussion about it.

Did the left realise the real significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall, or was it even willing to do so? In a decade of change, what has Europe achieved, or maybe more importantly, which achievements and challenges of the past decade have been recognised at all?

Amid the questions for a European identity and whose Europe it is after all emerge reflections, doubts and some hopes for the future of the project of our continent � can there be a united Europe? How? And last, not least, what have the last ten years meant for Europe, have they contributed to its unification or its division?

The Racist Albatross

Social Science, Jörg Haider and Widerstand

Racism is an inescapable part of our history, of our present and of ourselves. Only when we realise this can we also understand the role of racism in the world-system, and only then will we be able to interpret the successes of the populists and the extreme right ­ as well as the resistance, the Widerstand, that these successes have triggered. The social sciences have so far not contributed to this interpretational effort. Immanuel Wallerstein urges us to use the fact that we are living in an age of transition to create a social science that is capable of analysing the phenomena of racism. This is a moral and intellectual responsibility.

religion god light atheism

Ernest Gellner looks for the cause of some surprising developments in the twentieth century: the rising strength of Islam (in particular, Muslim fundamentalism); the upsurge in nationalism; and the unexpected and total collapse of Marxism. Behind both Muslim fundamentalism and nationalism, Gellner sees a break from local communities and hierarchies. And the main fault in Marxism, says Gellner, was the abolition of the profane. The big success stories today, he writes, “are the plural, liberal societies – what I call the unholy alliance of consumerist unbelievers.”

The reactions to the Austrian conservatives joining forces with the FPÖ can be attributed to the established political parties¹ need for a common enemy. In the “post-political era” the choice between Left and Right has lost its meaning, says Slavoj Zizek. The return of the extreme Right is the price that the “Third Way” of social democracy is paying for its renunciation of any radical political project.

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