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25/10/2011

Magazine Roundup


Elet es Irodalom
(Hungary), 21.10.2011

"Father, you are a smart man. How could you be so dumb?” asks the son of the famous Hungarian economist Janos Kornai, a communist until 1956. Adam Michnik read Kornai’s biography along with the memoires of Sandor Marais and the Polish philosopher Adam Sikora. The link between these three books, he writes, is their uniquely honest testimony of the communist period: "They have understood Aristotle's thoughts on tyranny, which, as Sikora writes, 'incites mutual distrust, since despotism cannot be overthrown as long as individuals are unable to trust one another'. We should take this notion to heart, since the despotic tendencies of the powerful still prevail, even after the demise of Marxist-Leninist ideology...Bolshevism may be dead, but it is being revived in new form as Social Nationalism, which could develop into an ideology capable of destroying masses of people in its wake - as shown in the bloody Balkan Wars. Even if this ideology borrows from anti-communist rhetoric, it is nevertheless the perfect mirror image of communism."


Rue89 (France), 22.10.2011

Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a member of the "Spinelli Group", a group of European representatives demanding fundamental institutional reform in the face of the euro crisis - federalise Europe. In an interview with Pascal Riche from Rue89 he asks: "How can Germany, France, and the Netherlands otherwise form a common support mechanism? There is only one way to do this: The decision structures and funds necessary for managing crises must be communalised."


La vie des idees (France), 21.10.2011

In La Vie des idees Enrique Klaus has written a well-informed investigative article about the role of state and private presses and the Internet in the Egyptian revolution. One learns how the private press was muzzled under the Mubarak regime, despite a certain degree of freedom: "The virtual monopoly of the Al-Ahram Advertising Company on the advertising market enabled the state newspapers to hoard the lions share of the advertising profits, whereas the so-called oppositional press (regardless whether affiliated with a party or independent) existed in a ongoing state of precarious finances. For a long time, the state printing presses were the only ones allowed to print newspapers, so that undesired editions could easily be withheld at printing." 

Die Welt (Germany) 20.10.2011

Stefan Koldehoff is incredibly bored by the database of some 11,000 works of Nazi art, which went online this past week. A record of the works presented the "Great German Exhibitions" between 1937 and 1944, the archive further lifts the taboo on Nazi artistic production, while avoiding the official sanction of a museum display. No one needs to be protected from these drab paintings of submarine commanders, wounded soldiers, the Autobahn, or forward-striding blond families. “Were these paintings to be sold today at auction, many would find a buyer. They are not timelessly beautiful, or even timelessly successful, but so timelessly average and banal, that even today they would fit in every other middle class living room.”


Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy), 23.10.2011

There is not much reason to celebrate in Italy at the moment. Once upon a time things were very different, Patrizia Gabrielli reports in her historical look back at the Italian economic miracle "Anni di novita e di grandi cose". In the 1950s and 1960s Italian society underwent major changes similar in scale to those in Germany, comments Emilio Gentile. But there was no growth on the political side. "It was nothing less than a miracle as to how fast this radical transformation took place, both in cities and on the countryside, in every part of Italy, affecting labourers, farmers, employees, artists, housewives, and students. During this time millions of Italians fundamentally changed the way they lived, from what they ate to the kinds of transport they used, the music they listened to, and the clothes they wore...New wealth gave the country's 50 million inhabitants a new way of thinking. It made them more into Italians than they had ever been in prior centuries. But it did not necessary enable them to become citizens of the national state, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 1961."


Babelia (Spain), 22.10.2011

The Spanish philosopher Jose Luis Pardo suggests literally capitalizing on the current omnipresent sense of insecurity: "The constant fluctuation of financial values has transformed facts, once indisputable reference points of reality, into something so puzzling, that the factor of the emotional states of the participants has long been uncoupled from the facts. If someone who is even thousands of miles away can change the price of a good merely through the mental energy of his 'future expectations', why shouldn't we then be able to improve our own prospects by simply believing in them with all our might? Why can't we again pump up the sagging slump in our future expectations with an extra infusion of positive self-evaluation? Of course reality is resistant to this kind of endeavour, but the 'indicators' used to confirm our current bankruptcy and our failure on all levels by no means stem from intractable reality itself, but from the people - the professional risk analysts - who not long ago constantly assured us that reality is as flexible and elastic as our desires and only dependent on how we view the world."


Highlights from the Anglophone Press

The Daily Beast profiles Wael Ghonim, the reluctant Facebook hero of the Egyptian Revolution. A 15-page article in Fast Company describes the coming tech war of 2012: between Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The New York Review of Books is puzzled by the paradoxes of the Occupy Wallstreet movement and its initiators Adbusters. Prospect discovers the substantive difference between British and Russian novelists. In The Economist a biography of Deng Xiaoping explains the stability of China compared to the Arab revolts, and the magazine marks the death of Gaddafi in a lengthy obituary. The New York Times Sunday Magazine is amazed by Haruki Murakami's concentration, and the Book Review gushes about the authorized "iBiography" of Steve Jobs.

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