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Over the last quarter century, every country, every social, ethnic or family group, has undergone a profound change in the relationship it traditionally enjoyed with the past. Pierre Nora looks at where this “memorialism” came from and why.

Volgens Slavoj Zizek kan in onze wereld – een universum van levenloze conventies vol dingen zonder wezen – de authentieke ervaring alleen maar een uiterst gewelddadige, schokkende belevenis zijn. Zoals 11 september. ‘Pas dan hebben we het gevoel dat we naar het echte leven zijn teruggekeerd.’

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.

After September 11, the weight of public opinion kept different, not just dissenting, ideas at bay, privately as much as publicly. To remain credible, intellectuals had to espouse, more or less gracefully, a much narrower range of accepted orthodoxies and platitudes than usual. Kathy Laster and Heinz Steinert document here possible interpretations of what happened which, because of this specific constellation of culture-industry demands, never got a public hearing.

Where ist the West of Europe and where is its East? Moreover where is the border inbetween? At hand of the Polish example, Kochanowicz looks at an elusive border that remains difficult to draw on either side of a country.

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.

Neocolonialism and Responsibility

The Western Presence in the Balkans

The big gap between principles and practise means that the Western democracies run the risk of failure when they try to take on the task of acting as protectors in the Balkans. Fatos Lubonja argues for a “wise and responsible presence”.

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.

The Democratic Welfare State

A European Regime Under the Strain of European Integration

In the absence of a democratic regime in Europe as well as an European welfare state – to say nothing about a “European culture” – it is hard to find any foundation of a European identity, argues Claus Offe.

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