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01/11/2011

Magazine Roundup

Le Monde  28.10.2011 (France)

The columnist Caroline Fourest is deeply ambivalent about the developments of the Arab Spring. "It is the reactionary powers who have been the first to harvest the fruits of the revolution", she writes regarding the electoral victory of the Islamists in Tunisia and the Islamist statements by the interim government in Libya. "Does this mean it would have been better if Gaddafi had gone unpunished for the bloodbath in Bengasi? Of course not. The United Nations would have gone under if this had happened, and with it the idea of universalism, without which there can be no human rights. Tomorrow, thanks to the UN, those who supported the 1973 resolution for intervention in Libya have the legitimacy to demand that the new Libyan government respect these rights. And this also goes for women's rights." Her next comment would seem to be directed at Bernard-Henri Levy: "However, it is time to put an end to the imbecilic war romanticism, which looks lovingly at every rebel. And to tell the truth about those who were once the oppressed and have become the oppressors."

On 25 October the paper published a speech by Jürgen Habermas on the current situation in Europe: "We must make Europe more democratic!": "In the short-term the crisis demands the greatest attention. But beyond that the political actors should not forget the construction faults at the root of the monetary union that cannot be solved other than through a corresponding political union: the EU simply lacks the necessary competence to harmonise the national economies."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
28.10.2011 (Switzerland)

J.M. Coetzee is known for his reluctance to talk to the media, but Angela Schader managed to elicit a few words from the Nobel literary laureate about his writing, literary criticism and South Africa. And the return of religion. "One fact that continues to surprise and worry me is that religion is making a return in forms that are so hostile to the intellect. It's as if centuries of intelligent and often profound theological thinking (I am referring here to the Judeo-Christian tradition, the only one with which I am really acquainted) had had no effect; as if none of this had made its way out of the universities and theological schools into the lives of the average believer."


Merkur  01.11.2011 (Germany)

Thomas E. Schmidt investigates how the Greens have reintroduced nature into political culture, among other things in the form of a Rousseauism that has been sublimated over time: "The subject of naturalness, of political reconciliation with nature, can no longer be asserted by a privileged class that in the course of history overrides society's dialectical contradictions. This must now be carried out by the individual within democratic culture. The Green is classless. And he denies Leo Strauss' analysis of 'Natural Right and History' according to which the entry of the natural person into the political sphere revolutionises the state. The Green, in other words, becomes a party politician. The solution, however, remains: once a citizen, now an individual. And this will be achieved not by republican virtue, but through subjectivity and engagement."

In his column on educational sociology, Jürgen Kaube doubts that schools can compensate for the inequality and injustice of society. (Here a piece of reportage from The Smithsonian that ascribes the successes of Finnland's schools to their policy of viewing every child as an individual challenge."


Il Sole 24 Ore  30.10.2011 (Italy)

Alongside the present day calamities, working through its fascist past threatens to become a stumbling block for Italy. With the publication of Giovanni De Luna's book "La repubblica del dolore" on remembrance in Italy, Piero Ignazio fears that the idea of the Italian nation will be torn apart. "In the absence of common memory and therefore of collective actors who can speak publicly in the name of the Italians as a whole, we have made do - as befits the national character - with a 'privatisation of remembrance' (and also of suffering). Two different factors have influenced this: the availability of TV as platform for individual destinies, individual victims; and the spirit of narcissism in which the ego stands above all else. In his final chapter De Luna recounts a television anecdote about how after programmes like 'La mia guerra' on Rai Tre in 1990 more than 10,000 letters were sent in by viewers offering to be interviewed (...) Today's Italy is the victim of thousands of personal and individual confessions which break apart the nation's common ground, and it has no idea how it should find its itself again."


Magyar Narancs 20.10.2011 (Hungary)

According to media theorist Peter György the statement by the writer Akos Kertesz that the Hungarians are "genetically subservient" (more here) might correspond on a formal level with racist criteria, as the columnist Sandor Revesz put it; but beyond formal logic this evaluation makes little sense: "What happened to Akos Kertesz, the unanimous excommunication from left and right, the miserable people's front [...] shows that we still don't want to talk about the things that we must finally discuss. The point is not what was done to our Hungarian forbears by others, but what they did to themselves. And what we continue to do to ourselves today."


Polityka 28.10.2011 (Poland)

Polish children's book illustrators are world famous, writes Sebastian Frackiewicz (here in German). "But in Poland, telling stories with pictures is not always appreciated, as can be seen in the example of comics. 'I once showed the dummy copy for 'Granny Knits' to a well-respected director of a state museum', [its author] Marta Ignerska recalls. 'She made the following remark: Is is not strange that you have more illustrations per page than text? What exactly am I paying for when I buy this book? It's something you read rapidly and then have no need for after that.'"


Highlights from the Anglophone press
:

The New Yorker reports on the "technology of paranoia" in post-Gaddafi Libya. In the London Review of Books, Pankaj Mishra pinpoints Niall Ferguson, who has shifted from sabre-rattling neocon to collapse theorist, as the man to watch. Salon attempts to rescue literary translators from invisibility. And in Eurozine Laszlo Földenyi tries to put his finger on the colour of the Danube, the most paradoxical of rivers.
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