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14/06/2005

Magazine Roundup

Elet es Irodalom | Le Monde diplomatique | Al Ahram Weekly | Le point | Le Nouvel Observateur | The Boston Globe | Gazeta Wyborcza | The Guardian | Outlook India | The New York Times Book Review


Elet es Irodalom
, 10.06.2005
(Hungary)

Author Istvan Eörsi uses the autobiography of the renowned Hungarian economic expert Janos Kornai to analyse the relationship of intellectuals to power: "Those who opt not to be published legally in order to avoid being censured are not the only ones with moral integrity. There are also writers who publish their books legally in order to gain more readers but deliberately choose subjects that would not interest the censors or disguise the real subject in order to get them through the official filter."


Le Monde diplomatique, 13.06.2005 (France / Germany)

Alain Gresh concludes in a detailed report on the situation in Lebanon that the so-called Cedar Revolution (more) was never the product of a unified consensus on democracy. The diverse groups of demonstrators were motivated by highly particular interests. Now Saad Hariri is going to inherit the post of his father. And the traditional networks are applying the usual methods of repression. "They propagate the belief that 'Syria is responsible for everything'. They're willing to use any means – even the absurd rumour that 80,000 Syrian households don't pay for their electricity from the Lebanese net. And the corruption? 'We consider the Syrians to be responsible for that,' an economist explains."


Al Ahram Weekly, 09.06.2005 (Egypt)

How should the Arabic world remember Abu Ghraib? What role will the "perverse pornography of the war" play in the collective imagination – if there can be such a thing – while all the world is forming its image of "the Arab"? Rania Gaafar is for taking the offensive: the transformation of the torture chamber into a museum. "The trauma of the Iraqi victims of torture from Abu Ghraib and the other occupied areas seem to generate a negative energy: Memory as a source of energy (...) Symbolism is necessary. Arabs cannot begin with deconstructive theories, when there are no constructions to begin with. And this symbolism can only grow, if one is granted the opportunity to tell the story, to keep the places of war and death. As the countries in the West do."


Le point, 09.06.2005
(France)

In an interview, the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk admits to being absolutely furious about the "infantile narcissism" of the French no to the European constitution. "Actually one must explain two 'no's. The Dutch no is a no of distrust, of petit bourgeois sensitivity and simple fear. The French no has quite a different tone: it is punishing, triumphant and pretends to be a repetition of the French revolution by using the means of the universal right to vote. This no considers itself to be heroic, but it is the heroism of spoiled children." And for the first time the xenophobes are waving their "flag of pride".


Le Nouvel Observateur, 09.06.2005 (France)

The supporters of the 'no' have accused Europe of acting in the name of globalisation, while the real challenge comes from beyond Europe, from Asia. This is the conclusion drawn by demographer Emmanuel Todd, who sees Europe as the only framework for a possible protectionism, which he personally would prefer. "Europe must become a power. In view of the rise of Chinese competition, the pressure of free trade is becoming so unbearable that a European form of protectionism seems to be unavoidable." For that reason alone, one must not exclude eastern Europe, claims Todd. Because the most important economic power in Europe is Germany and Germany needs the markets of East Europe. "For Germany, Western Europe is too small."


The Boston Globe, 12.06.2005 (USA)

In the weekend magazine of the Boston Globe, Wesley Yang reviews a book that collects and interprets Michel Foucault's articles on the Islamic revolution in Iran: Kevin Anderson and Janet Afary's "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution" (University of Chicago Press, more here, and here an excerpt). Yang sums up: "There is a long tradition of Western intellectuals going abroad to sing the praises of revolutionaries in distant lands and finding in them the realization of their own intellectual hopes. But the irony of Foucault's embrace of the Iranian Revolution was that the earlier intellectuals who had sung hymns to tyrants tended to share a set of beliefs in the kind of absolutes — Marxism, humanism, rationality — that Foucault had made it his life's work to overturn. Rather than pronounce from on high, Foucault sought to listen to what he took to be the authentic voice of marginal people in revolt and let it speak through him. In practice, this turned out to be a distinction without a difference."


Gazeta Wyborcza, 11.06.2005 (Poland)

"Poland now has a big chance to gain a say in the future of the EU – provided we say yes to the constitution", says Polish foreign minister Adam Rotfeld in an interview with the Polish daily. In his view, since international conventions are concluded in good faith, every individual is responsible for their ratification, without regard for what others have to say. Asked whether Europe will now adopt the American economic model, Rotfeld answers: "I think Europe will never adopt the American model. Rather, the USA will sooner or later take on the European model, which corresponds far more closely to the people's needs." The foreign minister will also hold to the plan of pulling Polish troops out of Iraq by the end of 2005, leaving only military advisers and trainers, in compliance with requests from the Iraqi government.

People in Poland are looking to Belarus. The Ukrainian revolution was openly welcomed in Warsaw. Now the "last European dictatorship" is in the public eye. All the more so as the authoritarian governing president Alexander Lukashenko has recently deployed the state apparatus against the association of the Polish minority – which also happens to be the largest NGO in the country. But Belarus journalist Alexandr Fieduta does not believe Minsk is slated for rapid democratic upheaval: "Belarus is not the Ukraine. Here the people receive salaries and pensions that they can actually live on. And there are no big economic players with vested interests in democratic institutions – here only firms that have made an arrangement with the government can thrive. There are no independent television or radio broadcasters, and almost no newspapers – the existing opposition papers are abolished for all eyes to see. And: the Russian influence is very strong in Belarus." Fieduta does not believe the 2006 elections will lead to a change. "Lukashenko is like a sickness. But the people of Belarus won't die from it. They'll heal – sooner or later."


The Guardian, 11.06.2005 (UK)

Aida Edemariam presents British Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif, who is criticised from all sides in England for her pro-Palestinian tones (but was nonetheless nominated for the Booker Prize). "Jewish peace activists have complained that she plays down their efforts; and there are Palestinians who would rather she directed her energies elsewhere. 'She is a typical Arab intellectual who wants to send Palestinians anywhere apart from their own countries,' says Samir el-Youssef, a Palestinian writer exiled in London. 'I cannot trust it. Nothing is easier than to attack Israel, but are you willing to look at your own society? This is the real challenge.'"


Outlook India, 20.06.2005 (India)

Everyone in the film studios of Tollygunge is saying it, and Sudha G. Tilak writes it too: one man alone is responsible for the revitalisation of Bengali cinema. His name: Prosenjit Chatterjee. An actor who has shot a respectable 450 films in 18 years, he is also active as script doctor, music director, behind-the-scenes director and consultant-of-all-trades. And he designs film posters. Anything else? Oh, yes: "Prosenjit is also credited for introducing cinemascope format and mainstreaming colour in Bengali cinema. He kickstarted the regional satellite TV network, ushered in non-linear editing and is currently planning to open up the overseas market for Bengali films." The portrait of a one-man-industry.


The New York Times Book Review, 12.06.2005 (USA)

For Christopher de Bellaigue, Orhan Pamuk's memories of "Istanbul" end far too soon. For instance he would have like to have known what Pamuk thinks of the current Turkish rapprochement to Europe (we recommend our feature interview with Pamuk "The Turkish trauma"). "For many secular Turks, that word 'imitation' has a disagreeable resonance. Naturally, they bridle at suggestions that their pursuit of a European identity is mimicry. Pamuk is an exception, a secular Turk who has too much integrity to seek authenticity in so contrived a national mission -- which he finds exemplified in his parents' house, where the piano is untouched and the porcelain is for show and the Art Nouveau screen has nothing to hide. Again, he turns for meaning to Istanbul's decrepit outlying neighbourhoods, and to the photographer Ara Guler, whose images illustrate Istanbul and who shares Pamuk's fascination with decay and snow."
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