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GoetheInstitute

24/06/2005

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Der Tagesspiegel, 24.06.2005

In an interview, philosopher Peter Sloterdijk declares that Tony Blair is pushing Turkey's entry in the EU to ensure that Europe will be ungovernable, that the "dear French" are getting on his nerves with their usual "revoltism", and that on top of things a threat to direct democracy is now brewing. "What we can expect is a global turn in 'authoritarian capitalism' – on the basis of neo-authoritarian values. Ratzinger's visions are easily accomodated into such a context. The 21st century is becoming a neo-authoritarian laboratory, one where capitalism no longer has a need for democracy... The current situation is similar to the 1930s, when several kinds of authoritarianism were on offer all over the world. I think political systems are again experiencing a transition to postliberal forms. You have the choice between China's 'party dictatorial' mode, the Soviet Union's 'state dictatorial' mode, the USA's 'opinion dictatorial' mode and finally the 'media dictatorial' mode of Berlusconi's Italy. Berlusconiism is the European test balloon of the neo-authoritarian turn."


Die Welt, 24.06.2005

The upcoming G8 summit would be better deployed to fight Aids than climate change, believes Danish political scientist Björn Lomborg, professor at the Copenhagen Business School. "Global warming is a fact. But the Kyoto protocol will have a limited tangible impact (postponing the temperature rise from 2100 to 2106) at vast cost (approximately 150 billion dollars per year). In view of limited resources, we must ask ourselves whether we want to do a lot of good things now or very few later. We must ask ourselves whether we can do more for the world by changing tactics on investment. It's not about letting go of the reins, on the contrary, we must grab the burning issue of prioritisation by the horns. Why is it the last major hurricanes caused thousands of deaths in Haiti when no one died in Florida? Because the Haitians are poor. They cannot take the necessary precautions. If we can break the vicious circle of poverty by tackling the most immediate problems of hunger, disease, and polluted drinking water, we are not just doing obvious good, we are making people less vunerable to the effects of climate change."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 24.06.2005


Iraqi writer Najem Wali reports that he has made a custom of seeking out the graveyards in every city and place he visits. But what does one do when an entire region turns out to be a graveyard? Wali travelled through Kurdistan, in Northern Irak, which "still today, after thirteen years of autonomy, of freedom and independence from central state power, is one vast graveyard. Unlike the graveyards in the South, however, the ones here mostly contain children's graves." Wali imagines the fate of the children as a "travelling world museum (...) a museum of all the things that were planned and never fully realised".


Die Tageszeitung, 24.06.2005

Bahman Niroumand, who fled Iran under the Shah and has lived in Germany since then, petitions for an election boycott in Iran. He believes the ultra conservative Mahmood Ahmadinejad is just as unacceptable as the conservative Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. "When Rafsanjani was state president, Ahmadinejad was involved in two assassinations that Rafsanjani ordered: one in Paris against the former prime minister Shahpur Baktiar; the other in Vienna against the leader of the Democratic party of Iranian Kurdistan, Abdolrahman Qasemloo. Ahmadinejad became provincial governor under Rafsanjani. They worked together for years. How can you recommend voting for the boss out of fear for his employee?"

Daniel Bax travelled to Northern Serbia, where he met Croatian rock musician Darko Rundek and composer Boris Kovac. Kovac is one of the founding members of the "Interzone" festival in Novi Sad which started seven years ago "in an alternative city theatre as meeting place for the opposition, and today continues to explore the cross section of jazz, world and new music", says Bax. Both Rundek and Kovac feel more affiliated with the Western pop world and pursue a very different musical agenda to that of the Balkan sound currently enjoying such popularity "not least because of the films of Emir Kusturica and the music of Goran Bregovic". Bax quotes Kovac: "Of course it's good to support gypsy culture. (...) But it's something else to ride about on this cliche of the wild Balkans. I don't like this over-simplified picture that Kusturica und Bregovic paint of the former Yugoslavia for a Western audience."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.06.2005

Jens Bisky has few kind words for the "Manifesto" by writers Martin R. Dean, Thomas Hettche, Michael Schindhelm and Matthias Politycki published yesterday in Die Zeit (more here), calling for "Relevant Realism" in German literature: "The entire manifesto sounds off in nondescript mutterings, shifting ground between poetry and politics to avoid having to commit itself to anything. The gesture is resolute, the content is vague, and the wording careful to cowardly."

Helmut Böttiger is in Kiev, and reports enthusiastically on the lingering mood of change (and the chic Ukrainian women), strongly recommending that Ukraine be the guest country at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2008: "The slender Ukrainian publishers' programmes attest to a real hunger for life. The Folio publishing house in Kharkiv has a series of books by young authors: 23-year-old Irena Karpa sings in a rock band and poses on the cover of her novel '50 Minutes on Drugs' like a stage performer in some holiday resort. Irena Starostina is just 17, and her book 'A Few Seconds of Happiness' evokes sexual fantasies typical for of age – there is something in the air."

Alexander Gorkow reports on problems encountered by the German "Live-8" organiser Marek Lieberberg, who fears standing in disgrace before his colleagues in London, Philadelphia, Rome and Tokyo: he can't find any sponsors. "'Since we started work on the German concert, we've been floundering in a net of stinginess, disinterest and official toing-and-froing in Berlin. The other cities involved in the project aren't faced with that kind of thing."

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