Nothing like the title "The Historical Task of the Left in the Present Period" has ever appeared in Dissent. It is a line frequently used by Joseph Stalin, and according to all the transcripts of his speeches, it was always followed by “Prolonged Applause.” But this seems the right historical moment to take it back. It originally was the beginning of the sentence that came in response to the question: “What ought to be done?”
On Friday 20th January, Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the 45th president of the USA: after taking the Oath of Office and offering his first inaugural address, Trump will begin his mandate. Quite soon, he will officially present his administration’s team; then, it will be possible to understand the political and economic path he will choose for the USA, also assessing whether and how Trump’s policies will effectively mirror the provocative proclaims that have marked his electoral campaign.
The days immediately before Election Day were hectic. I was working on the campaign for Hillary Clinton in Broward, a blue county just north of Miami-Dade. We were all pushing our hardest to get as many doors knocked and as many calls made. On Election Day, though exhausted and high-strung, we continued our push. Everyone on the team was up-beat , and already looking forward to the party at the Miami office headquarters that everybody was talking about.
Kusai only talks about returning home to Syria. Navigating the Islamist checkpoints and shoot-to-kill Turkish border guards to reach the destroyed city of Aleppo is preferable to waiting for the border to open. The slight and pensive 16-year-old boy had hoped to join his brother in Germany, but had spent two months stranded in a refugee camp at Eleonas, Athens, praying for the Macedonian gateway to central Europe to reopen.
The narrative voice of the liquid society
disappears with Bauman's death
disappears with Bauman's death
Zygmunt Bauman died yesterday at the age of 91. His death marks the loss of one of the most distinguished European intellectuals. Bauman gained widespread acclaim for his capacity to give a voice and language to contemporary social configurations. The end of Fordism – the main theme of Bauman’s work in the last few decades – as well as the transition to a “liquid society” have dominated his reflections and, due to his work, now appear to us as common sense. His last essay for Reset-Dialogues on Civilizations was about Trump: “The strongmen and the anxious class”.
Roman Herzog, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, died on January 10th, 2017. A member of the Christian-Democratic Union party (CDU), Herzog was the first president elected after German reunification in 1990. He was also a member and president of the Federal Constitutional Court as well as minister for Culture and Education. During his mandate at the Constitutional Court, he intensely devoted his work to immigration and integration policies for minorities.
This election was about the sex of state. In the eyes of millions of his supporters, particularly the men who made him President, America’s manhood is at stake. Donald Trump ran as an erect phallus, a sexually aggressive man who can break through the forms, crush our enemies and make the American body politic strong once again.
Trump did not run on a policy platform. People voted for his dick. Never before has a candidate for the American Presidency defended his penis size, let alone a prime-time debate, assuring us that his small hands do not mean anything else is small. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee you,” he shot back at a primary debate. One of the rally posters for Trump now circulating proudly exhorts: “Don't’ be a pussy! Vote Trump.”
The expansion and consolidation of the Hindu Right’s political power has raised legitimate concerns about the future of India’s secularism. While criticism of secularism could be found in the public debate during the anti-colonial struggle, the sustained assault on it became particularly apparent during the Ayodhya movement. During the late 1980s and 1990s, the public campaign led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) advocated that the practice of secularism has led to the appeasement of Muslims. The BJP further argued that it has been quite harmful to India’s democratic polity because it has been institutionalising vote-bank politics, and that what is needed is in fact an attempt for a ‘positive’ secularism as opposed to ‘negative’ secularism. While these distinctions were widely used during those days, surprisingly it has vanished from the political lexicon of the Hindu Right in recent years.
Long before the final results, many Americans knew that our body politic was suffering a seizure after being injected with a poison that nothing in Hillary Clinton’s politics was potent enough to expel. The impotence of that politics — its inability to draw from wellsprings deeper than bromides about breaking glass ceilings, “fighting” for families and children, and slashing college tuition — has little to do with Clinton’s character or alleged corruption or even with the undoubted wave of misogyny in this election.
He was one the first people to sign a petition protesting the Turkish government’s military operations against Kurdish areas in his country at the beginning of this year. Not even the attempted coup d’état of July 15th, which was neutralized by the government, has softened his criticism of President Racep Tayyp Erdogan. Cengiz Aktar, a professor of international relations at Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, has a hard time describing his country as a democracy.
October 2016, New Delhi – Milan
Ashis Nandy sees vendors of nationalism inflicting damage all over the world, including in his own country, India. In India, the modern ideologies dominant during the liberation struggle against British rule were anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. These then gave way to secular nationalism after Independence in 1947, under the first Prime Minister of free India, Jawaharlal Nehru (d. 1964). But less than seven decades later, what dominates Indian politics today is Hindu nationalism or “Hindutva”, and this is now being aggressively promoted by the 'strongman' currently leading the government in Delhi, Narendra Modi. Nandy, 79, a clinical psychologist by training, an analyst of culture and society, an astute political commentator and today India's most significant living public intellectual, has embraced the view of one of India’s founding fathers, Rabindranath Tagore, who thought that the idea of Indian nationalism was as absurd as Switzerland having a navy. In this interview below, Nandy will explain why.
Two years after the publication of An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, Indian economist and philosopher Amartya Sen of Harvard University returns to focus on the relationship between identity and violence. The Country of First Boys appeared a few months ago in bookstores as a collection of Sen’s essays made available with the contribution of Antara Dev Sen and Pratik Kanjilal. In it, the Bangladeshi-born economist updates his earlier reflections on ‘identity politics’ and its relationship with extremism and violence, both at the inter-ethnic as well as at the international level.
Over the past week newspapers in Turkey have reported alternating events one in apparent contradiction with the other. On December 14th the chapter involving negotiations concerning economic and monetary policies linked to Turkey’s EU membership was reopened. The integration process was resumed with unexpected speediness as part of the agreement on the management of Syrian refugees that will fill Ankara’s coffers with $3 billion to be used to build camps to keep Syrians far from the EU. With perfect timing, a court in Istanbul rejected the request presented by lawyers representing Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, respectively editor and editor-in-chief of the historical daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, for their release from prison.
Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli is the Italian government’s delegate for the Middle East and in the past was a professor and OSCE representative as well as being a former member of the Italian and European parliaments’ Foreign Affairs Committees. Pistelli’s long summer started when he returned to Italy with the last flight out of Erbil before U.S. air strikes on ISIS jihadists began. There he saw first-hand Iraq’s wounded image in refugee camps, filled with those who had already abandoned everything to flee the men led by “Caliph” al-Baghdadi, and were now preparing to flee once again. Today, he believes, such an international crisis or the decision-making system in place called upon to remedy matters, are no longer issues to be addressed by desk-strategists, because when events are this harsh, a backlash can only be prevented by the United Nations’ centrality and the flexible of politics and diplomacy.
Dust, ruins and entire districts burned to the ground; that is today’s Ramadi, the Sunni city that is the capital of the very turbulent Anbar Province. Freed by the Iraqi army at the end of last year, it now looks like a ghost city. Satellite photographs published in recent days by the Associated Press show the extent of the devastation, with over three thousand buildings destroyed, 400 roads seriously damaged, bridges reduced to dust and collapsing infrastructure. About 800 civilians have died in Ramadi and the challenge faced is now a political one.
Only twice has Bangladesh made headline news in recent years: three years ago, when a complex of clothes factories collapsed in the suburbs of Dhaka killing over 1,200 people, and again last Friday when a group of armed men attacked a place patronised by Westerners killing 20 people, eighteen of them Westeners. The attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery, a café-restaurant in Dhaka’s most exclusive district, was not totally unexpected. There had been many signs indicating that Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most unstable countries in south Asia with 150 million inhabitants, of which the majority are Muslims, had sunk into a political crisis in which Islamist extremism is a destabilising force.
Once upon a time there was a prince called Muhammad Dara Sikoh who belonged to the Moghul dynasty. In 1655, before embracing the Sufi confraternity of the Qadiriyya, Dara Sikoh wrote a treatise comparing Hinduism and Sufism, the beautiful Majma‘ al-bahrayn (The Confluence of the Two Seas); he wrote it in Persian, at the time the official and cultured language of the Indian administration. Nowadays everything has changed. Iran, however, still has great potential in its cultural and political influence over Asia. With the end of international sanctions, Iranians have returned to the centre of geopolitics, and not only Middle Eastern geopolitics.
Europe will welcome 160,000 refugees in 2015. Each member state will be called upon to receive a quota in proportion to their economic and demographic size. This is the proposal put forward by the EU Commission’s President Jean-Claude Junker in his ‘State of the Union’ speech on Wednesday. Germany has been promoting this plan and has been putting it into action for some time, giving the the states, the Länder, responsibility for sharing the burden of managing asylum seekers. They are allocated on the basis of the so-called “Königsteiner key”, a system created in the ‘50s and originally aimed at spreading over what was then West Germany the funds destined for research.
Love him or hate him but Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet again demonstrated his supreme talent as a political operator. In the elections of November 1st 2015, his Justice & Development Party (AKP) obtained a majority in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, winning 49.4% of the vote – an increase from 40.9% (and 4.5 million voters) since the inconclusive elections of June 7. The AKP is now able to form a cabinet alone. Turkey, however, is more or less in the same position as before the vote of June: a powerful, directly elected president driven by limitless ambition in control of the legislature. Reset-DOC has talked about the last elections' results with prominent Turkish intellectual Mustafa Akyol, the author of Islam Without Extremes (2013).
Erdogan’s proclaimed state of emergency under Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution following the failed military putsch on the night between July 15th and 16th has further heightened concerns about Turkey’s internal and external direction of travel. There is an obvious mismatch between the cross-party rejection of the coup and the reality of an ongoing one-sided dismantling of significant sectors of the military, the judiciary, academia, and the media. What began as a legitimate response from the government aimed to restore law and order is increasingly turning into an awkward wide-ranging purge of long-time political opponents some believe may have already been in the making.