Lithuanian scientists are working on a formula for happiness. Their biometric measurements of feelings and emotional states propose to improve lives. But smart governance linking efficiency with happiness might have repercussions, says Skaidra Trilupaitytė. In a pandemic-tainted world, tracking and advanced lie detector tests could have questionable political uses.
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Remembering ultimate acts of resistance
Acknowledging the past is an ongoing necessity to know who we are, says Arnon Grunberg, whose Dutch WWII Remembrance Day lecture pointedly commemorates those who lost their lives shouting ‘No!’ and refusing to conform.
The suspicion that Trump will refuse to accept the result of the election is symptomatic of the state of democratic politics today. That modern liberal democracies can cancel themselves is an inevitable possibility. But to reduce politics to a battle between the defenders and the opponents of ‘true democracy’ is to turn pluralism into its opposite.
Comparing post-Ottoman and post-socialist urban development
Belgrade residents cannot afford the Savamala waterfront’s extortionate real-estate prices. Its decision-makers draw aspirational parallels between today’s urban development and the area’s post-Ottoman era but ignore the failures of both. Seemingly a-historic glass facades cannot disguise the strategic politicization of history, says Miloš Jovanović.
A conversation on European belonging
Can a sense of belonging exist that both encompasses nationhood and goes beyond it? Gary Younge, Susan Nieman and Jan Plamper look for a European identity that turns neoliberal ideology around.
How Russia has tipped the balance in Belarus
Since Putin’s demonstration of support for Lukashenka, time seems to be on the side of the Belarusian dictator. As long as he can rely on Kremlin backing, nothing short of a general strike will force him out, argues the Russian sociologist Lev Gudkov in interview with ‘Osteuropa’.
The health risks of traditional masculine behaviour
Might traditional masculine traits make men more vulnerable to coronavirus? Bioethicist and molecular biologist Federico Germani questions masculinity’s role in higher COVID-19 male mortality, comparing emerging scientific evidence with recent trends in pandemic-related social behaviour.
We are in the midst of this century’s second housing crisis, on top of the existential threat of climate change. Social housing could trigger social change and play a key role in decarbonization. The former poster child of housing poverty, Brazil, offers unique lessons.
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.
Warnings about resurgent fascism are not entirely unjustified. And yet they can still blind us to the political dangers we are now facing. It is Napoleon, not Hitler, who exemplifies an enduring threat to modern democracies, argues historian of modern France David A. Bell.
Armed violence and drug production in Mexico
The distinctions between exploiter and exploited are ill-defined, keeping small-scale poppy producers locked in criminality in northern Mexico. The military, drug trade intermediaries and an inaccessible legal framework all conspire to marginalize those who experience violence on a daily basis.
Tolerance can’t confront racism alone. Philosopher Susan Neiman addresses the rise of Black Lives Matter protests in relation to scarcely acknowledged colonial pasts, arguing that it’s high time to face up to responsibility previously masked by WWII Nazi atrocities.
Housing reform and the idea of the good home
The ‘housing question’ was formed not by the issues of poverty and necessity, but by bourgeois norms and demands – often intended to tame social unrest. From minimal dwelling to air quality, Michael Klein surveys the 19th-century discourses which still influence political thinking, and tend to exclude concerns of the underprivileged.
An Istanbul story
Russian refugees influenced Istanbul’s cultural life from the 1920s despite the Turkification policies of the new republic. The Sevastopol-born sculptor Iraida Barry’s life in exile and love for the city is a piece of this history. However, admiring the Russian diaspora shouldn’t have meant demeaning others – as ended up happening in US press. Ayşe Kadıoğlu revisits a life exiled to Istanbul, while longing for the heartbeat city herself.
The nationalist opposition in Belarus has been marginalized, argues Coordination Council member Olga Shparaga. National heroes and vertical power structures no longer have popular appeal. The focus is instead on peaceful cooperation, social inclusion and the soft power of women.
Where can we turn if our social networks, structures and governance can’t be trusted? Cancel culture, disinformation and the lack of boundaries define our perception. Geert Lovink, Eliot Higgins and Matilda Amundsen Bergström provide some welcome thoughts on solidarity overcoming abuses of power.