Blätter International

Blätter International

Blätter International

‘Out of concern for Germany’ read the headline of Blätter, the Journal for German and International Politics (Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik), that was first published on 25th November 1956. Today it might be: ‘Out of concern for democracy’ – in Europe and beyond. All across Europe the rise of right-wing populism is evident. The post-war development of the Western European model of democracy consisting of key principles such as political parties, free market economy, representative government, and civic participation seems to have failed. How can we save democracy? This is just one of the big questions that ‘Blätter’ intends to look at in the future.

Blätter is the most widely read political journal in the German-speaking area. The journal self-publishes a monthly issue, which is independent from companies, churches, interest groups, and political parties. In times of increasing corporate control of the media, it provides lively and critical media coverage. It considers itself a forum for current political discussion. Within the 128 pages, Blätter authors comment on and analyse the political events in Germany and abroad – retaining a critical perspective on the technocratic and neoliberal mainstream. The more than 11.000 subscribers guarantee its editorial and financial independence. The total print run is 12.500 copies.

Blätter aims to bring together academia and political intervention. On the one hand, it is focused on contributions with arguments backed up by academic standard citations, on the other hand, every text is held to journalistic standards of good readability and comprehensibility.

The editorial office consists of the five editors Anne Britt Arps, Daniel Leisegang, Albrecht von Lucke, Annett Mängel and Steffen Vogel. They are supported by a circle of publishers that share Blätter’s belief in editorial standards and emancipatory analysis of political debates. Among the 22 publishers are Jürgen Habermas, Seyla Benhabib, Saskia Sassen, Katajun Amirpur, Peter Bofinger, Micha Brumlik, Rudolf Hickel, Claus Leggewie, Jens Reich, Friedrich Schorlemmer and Hans-Jürgen Urban.

This stable publishing circle guarantees that Blätter remains what it has been for almost 65 years: ‘an island of reason within a sea of nonsense’ (Karl Barth).

The following articles were translated and published in cooperation with Eurozine, a network of European cultural journals.

All articles (page 1 of 2)

Globalization demystified?

Around the year 1320, the Plague broke out in Hubei, the same central Chinese province, with its capital Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated. Despite all the historical differences, there are striking parallels between the course and consequences of both epidemics. It took 25 or 30 years for the Plague to reach the Chinese coast and take hold in the trade ports and the termini of the Central Asian caravan routes that connected China to Europe.

The end of anonymity

In mid-January, The New York Times revealed that hundreds of law enforcement agencies and private companies across the world use a software called Clearview. It allows images of people to be identified within seconds, together with their name, address, occupation and contacts. The revelations are controversial for two reasons. First, Clearview identifies people using its own database of more than 3 billion private photos. By comparison, the FBI photo database has ‘only’ 640 million photos.

Digital Socialism

First, the bad news. When it comes to Big Tech, we have lost the plot. By we, I refer to those of us who, in one way or another, feel a relationship with social democracy or socialism. And by the plot, I don’t mean just our understanding of the dynamics of the digital economy and digital capitalism, but also of capitalism as such and the role that social democracy and socialism should be playing in either countering or counterbalancing it.

Game over for the monopolists?

Here’s the problem with Big Tech, in a nutshell. A few years ago, Mark Zuckerberg said the following: ‘In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company. We have this large community of people, and more than other technology companies we’re really setting policies.’ Zuckerberg is seeking to establish a supreme court for content moderation, to structure the media environment with a quasi-cartel of publishers, and even to create his own currency. Such concentrations of private power are simply not compatible with democracy.

Unaccountable Europe

For almost five years Margrethe Vestager has been the EU Commissioner for Competition and officially responsible for dealing with cartel brotherhoods and monopolists from all over the world. The Danish politician really does a good job. Since taking office, she has imposed more than 15 billion euros in antitrust fines, almost twice as much as her predecessor, thereby doing Europe’s consumers a service that is worth all the more because it depresses prices. Vestager imposed 4.4 billion euros in fines on Google alone last year.

The fight for the city

The question of ‘the city’ has preoccupied me for a long time. My latest book, The Open City, is the last of a trilogy on Homo Faber, human beings, man and woman, as makers. The first book was on craftsmanship, the second was a book on cooperation, and this is a book about making the physical environment.

German Europe's ascendancy

During almost a decade in office, the German Chancellor has never been so prominent as now: first in energetically trying to settle the crisis in Ukraine, and then pokering with the newly elected government of Alexis Tsipras about Greek debt remission and whether Greece is to remain in the eurozone.

Privacy as a human right

In June 2013, Edward Snowden's revelations about the massive surveillance programme of the NSA and the British GCHQ caused global outrage. Almost two years later, the burning question is whether effective means exist to prevent blanket surveillance by the security services. One thing is for sure: there will be no return to the analogue era.

Europe entrapped

Europe finds itself in what may well be its worst crisis since 1945. More and more historically aware commentators are reminded of the situation prior to 1933.