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15/11/2011

Magazine Roundup

Telerama 14.11.2011 (France)

Rue89 (here), Slate.fr (here), Owni (here), Mediapart (here) – and many more. Unlike in Germany where nothing of any import can grow in the shadow of the public service broadcasters, the French internet is overflowing with lively new journalistic startups. In Telerama, Emmanuelle Anizon and Olivier Tesquet provide a valuable overview. However, in France there is one unresolved problem, the precariousness of the online information economy: "In order to participate in the adventures of the 'pure player', you have to leave the crisis-ridden but still comfortable 20th century print press, in order to take the plunge into the thoroughly insecure journalism of the 21st century. You become a pioneer in a volatile economy, work according to uncertain business models whose earning power is purely hypothetical for the time being. You work more and earn less. But you vibrate. In the miniscule Owni offices the journalists meet for a drink every Friday, to drink a toast of lukewarm beer to the survival of a small flying saucer (OVNI is French for UFO)."


Elet es Irodalom
11.11.2011 (Hungary)

Hungarian TV and radio reporting on the mass demonstrations on 23 October (more here) has been scanty and one-sided. Sociologist Maria Vasarhelyi calls to mind French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's comment that "tracking shots are a question of morality." This comments applies not only to filmmaking but also to the visual politics of mass media reporting. "Where and how a cameraman puts his camera and what he tells his audience about an event with his images is absolutely a question of morality. The overwhelming majority of Hungarian mass media has broken with this the most important moral imperative of their profession, by keeping quiet about, belittling or consciously distorting everything that happened at the demonstration. These media channels which deliver the news to 90 percent of the population and which stand directly or indirectly under the influence of political power, manipulated the images to prevent their audiences from gaining a proper sense of what sort of people and how many of them had come out to protest against a system they dislike."


El Espectador 13.11.2011 (Colombia)

Hector Abad has read Steven Pinker's new book on the decline of human violence and is happy to acknowledge the presence of better angels in our nature: "The terrible world in which we live – with the massacres of Abu Ghraib and Mapiripan, the Twin Towers and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya – is much more peaceful and safe than the world during Napoleon's time, say, or the American war of independence, or the Colombian wars of independence. As unbelievable as it may seem, you are less likely to be murdered in Columbia today than in the Spain of the so-called Siglo de Oro. In Columbia, the land of violence and violence researchers par excellence, Steven Pinker's book should become obligatory reading for all humanities students – a scientific treatise against lazy thinking and ideological prejudices, which shows how much good there is in all human beings and in our culture at large."


Eurozine
10.11.2011 (Austria in English)

Charles Taylor comes over as a wise old owl in conversation with capitalism critic and Catholic firebrand Slawomir Sierakowski of the Krytyka Polityczna. No, Taylor says, liberal democracy is not dead; it's just that active participation in the US and many Western European countries has declined, for good reason: "These countries had higher participation during periods when a sort of class war was being fought: Labour and Conservatives in Britain; Socialists and Gaullists in France, Social Democrats and Christian Democrats in Germany, and so on. So there was a struggle of a people, a demos: peasants and workers against the others, and these others mobilized themselves too. This led to the posing of clear alternatives, a high level of participation. The same thing is happening in India today. Among the Dalits – the lowest strata of the Indian caste system – there's this tremendous sense that democracy is a chance for them to make this very inegalitarian society less so. In the West, the more rich and educated you are, the more you vote; in India, the less you have, the less educated you are, the more you vote."


Der Tagesspiegel 12.11.2011 (Germany)

How can it be, Frank Jansen asks, that the Federal Republic has been plagued for 13 years by the crimes of a brutal right-wing terrorist group from Thuringia in East Germany – without even realising it? "Were the security services, the politicians and society as a whole all blind in the right eye? Nine murders of small business owners with immigration backgrounds, the murder of a female police officer in Heilbronn, at least 14 bank robberies, and by all accounts a string of further crimes probably involving dynamite, were not enough to raise the suspicions of the long-serving right-wing extremism experts about the existence of a Brown Army Faction. So now Germany is experiencing a shock like the one Norway experienced in the summer, when the extremist Anders Breivik staged an equally unimaginable orgy of violence. Both countries now have to admit that it is time to think the unthinkable, that right-wing extremism is not as limited as we thought. Neo-nazis can also turn themselves into professional terrorists." Watch excerts from a video by the terrorist group claiming responsibility for their actions.

Europe needs two things, according to Tomasz Kurianowicz in a short essay on the current crisis, the end of capitalism and literature. "How we became what we are: what is needed is more reflection on Europe's history. Literature is a vast vessel of memory which can protect us from idiotic mistakes. Robert Musil's essay "Helpless Europe. A Digressive Journey" from 1922 is full of historical parallels. Musil calls Europe a 'Babylonian madhouse'; his analyses are equally relevant to the current state of the continent.


Die Zeit 10.11.2011 (Germany)

Where were the intellectuals when Europe withered? Thomas Assheurer directs a host of questions at the critical thinkers who were unable to depart from their national circles to consider a European public sphere. But perhaps it is not too late: "It would be a mistake if the intellectuals let this crisis slip by unused. Although they have no more knowledge than anyone else, they are still free to contribute to this complicated project with simple suggestions. What should a federal Europe look like? ... What relationship should national democracies have to the EU constitution? In a word: what form should political sovereignty take?"


News from the Anglophone press
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Independent bookshops are thriving, according to Bloomsberg Businessweek, on the bones of the superstores. Jane Kramer forages for food in the New Yorker. John Gray tears apart Francis Fukuyama's optimism in the New Republic. Lawrence Lessig, in the Boston Review, wants amateurs in power. And in Walrus Magazine, Toni Jokinen sweeps the stage of a Richard Strauss opera in search of his quarter Italian.
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