Merkel’s volte-face on Europe has been prompted by a shift in the balance of power in Germany’s party landscape, argues Jürgen Habermas. The rise of the AfD has forced the German leadership to reappraise the imbalances of reunification and to re-assume the role the country had thirty years ago in shaping Europe’s future.
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Analogies between the US and Weimar Germany ignore that democratic backsliding under Trump is not the reversion to an illiberal norm. To call Trump a fascist is equally unhistorical: if there is a comparison, then it is with Europe’s rightwing populists. But is factual accuracy even the point when it comes to the discourse of antifascism?
Some additions to the use of the current lingua franca
Can language be separated from its users? Who owns English, when everybody needs to learn it?
A transatlantic conversation
At a moment that is Hamletesque in Minsk and Washington alike, Marci Shore illuminates moments of choice, and what these mean for freedom and human dignity. The following is a transatlantic conversation inspired by Ukraine, moderated by Kant and open to all.
Authors probing history’s silences for justice’s sake
Guilty secrets hide culpability. And, when the responsibility for crimes against humanity lies shamefully buried, injustice prevails. Authors Serhii Plokhii and Philippe Sands discuss their approaches to uncovering the truth behind Nazi and Soviet war crimes and the Chernobyl disaster.
On the hard conditions of soft digitization
Although we often think about the Internet as immaterial, storing the seemingly abstract ones and zeros requires actual, mechanical work. Those who provide the material means are continuously underpaid, thus ‘growth’ and ‘development’ at the centre result in energy depletion in the periphery.
In July, members of the AKP proposed withdrawing Turkey from the Istanbul Convention. With femicides in the country becoming ever more frequent, the prospect of losing one of the few legal protections for vulnerable women has provoked outrage. Varlık comments on the proposals and publishes an open letter calling on the Turkish government to honour its commitments under the Convention.
Adom Getachew talks to Ashish Ghadiali
The history of decolonization tends to be understood as the incorporation of formerly colonial states as sovereign equals to international society. But this liberal narrative overlooks the revolutionary roots of the anti-colonial project in opposition to the exploitative and hierarchical system of empire.
How COVID-19 burst Italy’s tourism bubble
Italian cities are ordinarily international tourism hotspots. Their economic recovery post-lockdown appears to depend on visitor numbers. And yet massified tourism brings its own pressures, undermining local housing provision. Alessio Giussani investigates the Italian city’s precarious situation, taking Airbnb’s impact as example.
Forum on European Culture Livestream, 18-20 September
Afropean identity, women’s cinema, racism in football and a Dutch Kurdish choir addressing domestic violence – there’s something for all discerning tastes this weekend.
New powers granted to the ‘bekçi’ – Turkey’s auxiliary police force – have led to a spate of violent confrontations, releasing traumatic memories of the military coup forty years ago. The revival of this Ottoman relic consolidates Erdoğan’s centralized rule. But will it end up hastening his decline?
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.
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.
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.