The European Union's approach to refugees is causing a humanitarian catastrophe: almost everyday, people die attempting to cross the tightly guarded external borders of Europe. According to estimates, lives lost since the 1990s total 19,000.
‘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 2 of 2)
Events are unfolding fast in Turkey. No one would have imagined that protests against building over a green space in Istanbul would lead to a countrywide explosion of social unrest. But within days, it was clear: nothing in Turkey would ever be the same again. Some have already branded the daily mass protests a "Turkish Spring".
Almost a quarter century has passed since the citizens of central and eastern Europe took to the streets to demand more democracy. Though the memory remains fresh in reunified Berlin, I wonder whether, elsewhere, 1989 and its aftermath are still debated with any real urgency.
The proposed international treaty ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) provoked much resistance in 2012 – both online and on the streets. Participant states intended to establish global standards for the protection of intellectual property and sharp penalties for copyright infringement.
In Iran, the revolutionary dogma prevailing at the official level has obliged "post-Islamist" philosophers to provide profound justifications for Islam's compatibility with democracy. Katajun Amirpur puts contemporary Iranian thinking on religion and politics in the context of the intellectual anti-westernism of the Khomeini era.
Both the European Union and the "idea of Europe" are facing their sternest test since 1945: this is the pessimistic tenor of many of the comments on the euro crisis and the unpopular cuts being made in national budgets. Members of the wartime generation refer warningly to Europe's self−destruction and division in the twentieth century.
Addressing a panel hosted by the European Council on Foreign Relations and the Mercator Foundation on 6 April 2011, Jürgen Habermas criticized political elites for shirking their responsibility of delivering Europe to its citizens, instead relying on opportunism that threatens to "sink 50 years of European history".
"Freedom is a great, great adventure, but it is not without risks [...]. There are many unknowns."
Fathi Ben Haj Yathia (Tunisian author and former political prisoner), New York Times, 21.2.2011
The whole world is talking about renewable energy, sympathetically, as if about nice weather. Hardly anyone still disputes that it represents the future of energy supply for humankind. However this shift of perception is only a few years old. The attention that renewables receive worldwide has developed despite the mainstream energy discussion in politics, finance and the media.
Though the regime struggled for two more weeks, practically little government existed during that period. All ministries and government offices had closed, and almost all police headquarters were burned down on 28 January. Except for the army, all security personnel disappeared, and a week after the uprising, only few police officers ventured out again.
Many people have lost the belief that the world can be put on a better track. Since the Enlightenment, people or groups of people – political parties, revolutionaries, subversives, utopians or reformers – have tried again and again, but often not much good has come of it. In this respect, we are once bitten, twice shy.
Two-hundred-and-fifty km/h from Stuttgart main station across the Schwäbische Alb – that's what Baden-Württemburg's political establishment have been dreaming about since 1994. Yet it's not certain that Stuttgart's railway terminus really will have been converted into an underground through-station by 2019.
At the end of 2009, German students once again took to the streets and occupied their universities in protest at current study conditions. At core, the protests were aimed at the massive changes in the organization of higher education introduced by the Bologna Process. And rightly so.
There was jubilation among data privacy campaigners on 2 March after the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe overturned the EU Data Retention Directive of 2006 (obliging member states to store citizens' telecommunications data for six months to two years). However
German chancellor Angela Merkel's neologism Flüchtlingsbekämpfung, coined in the German parliament in 2009 and translatable as "refugee combating", might have seemed like a misanthropic lapse; it could, after all, easily belong to the jargon of the extreme Right.
Two years have passed since the outbreak of the property and financial crisis, yet there has been no progress in the regulation of the banking and financial sectors. Worse still, a serious start has not even been made. This diagnosis doesn't only go for Germany. It applies equally to the US, the European Union, and at the level of international regulation.
On 29 November 2009 the Swiss electorate was called upon to vote on an initiative that wanted to ban, with immediate effect, the construction of minarets. Moreover, it was proposed that the ban – a mere detail of building law – be written into the constitution (!).
Gert Weisskirchen: When we – especially those of us in the "West" – speak of '68, we usually think of Paris or the Prague Spring, which was suppressed with such brutality when the Warsaw Pact states invaded on 21 August. It is less well known that as early as March 1968 demonstrations were held in Poland – when performances of a play by the great Polish writer Adam Mickiewicz were banned. So 1968 evidently had a lot to do with culture. One of the students who protested, and was later imprisoned for doing so, was Adam Michnik.