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03/08/2005

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.

Die Welt, 03.08.2005

Daniel Binswanger, French correspondent of the Zürich-based Weltwoche tries to figure out why young European intellects are so fascinated by Giorgio Agamben: "Agamben is setting a new benchmark in lectern prophecy", he believes. "It's the perfume of the radical that gives him his edge. Agamben's critique of democracy could not be sharper. His book 'Homo sacer' (1995) is an eclectic survey of the history of the western democratic state comparing it to an enormous concentration camp in its essence. He sees the modern state as a totalitarian event in the efficient management of naked biological life because contemporary sovereignty is exercised through bio-politics – the control of naked life. According to Agamben, the power of decree to which concentration camp prisoners are subjected has no legal limitations and constitutes the secret matrix of the modern administrative state." Militant anti-globalisation types love this message. But Binswager is not impressed. "Every era has the trendy philosophy it deserves. Ours seems to be getting needy again," he concludes.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 03.08.2005

Jürgen Schrempp has frittered away 50 billion euros of Daimler Chrysler's net worth since 1998 but writer and entrepreneur Ernst-Wilhelm Händler doesn't think he's responsible for the entire problem. "What he did had the majority support in the supervisory board for ten years. The entire committee is responsible. The chairman of the board is at least as responsible; in this case, that's Hilmar Kopper from the Deutsche Bank." Händler claims that it's the participation of banks or states like Lower Saxony in the case of Volkswagen that are bringing the German economy to its knees and not the much criticised private investors. They, says Händler, are doing the economy good. "If you go about this business without passion or prejudice, things like this don't happen. Megalomania only makes economic sense if it pays off. A strategic investor or a hedge fund does not in principle know the sheer megalomania."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 03.08.2005


Marc Zitzmann visited Christian Dior's house of birth in Norman Granville where an exhibition is being staged to celebrate the couturier's hundredth birthday. Zitzmann was obviously impressed. "In the belle etage, memories fly to and fro. Here a fitted blazer from Robert Piguet and an evening dress from Lucien Lelong, who works for Dior as a designer. There the famous cast iron star which, when the superstitious fashion designer found it in 1945, prompted him to take up the offer of industrialist Marcel Boussac to open his own house. There the gold edged little cane that the couturier used during rehearsals to alert new models to wayward details: 'Really, I don't like it one bit.'"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 03.08.2005

Irish writer John Banville asks why the IRA in their most recent statement announced that they would put an end to their armed campaign but not disband the organisation. He is all but optimistic. "The 'armed struggle' is over, but criminality will continue, perhaps even escalating in brazenness and brutality, because now the IRA is no longer taking responsibility for the activities of its members. Many of the 'tough guys' who run the dirty business of war on the streets of Belfast and Derry and on the remote roads in South Armagh, are among the most active and brutal criminals in Europe, Russia included."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 03.08.2005


"The heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia went on a hunger strike at the beginning of July. They were furious that the government had changed the laws on hero status without them being consulted," reports Sonja Margolina, who has limited sympathy for the strikers. After all, recent times have seen war criminals such as the Chechynan warlord Ramsan Kadyrov being crowned as heroes without any protest whatsoever." Until now the status of the heroes has been dependent on their great acts being recognised by the public. And they have wallowed with their considerable privileges in the illusion that they also had state recognition. This is not surprising as the majority of the heroes had and still have close ties to the state. Many of them belong to the governing party and are responsible for socially detrimental decisions and the corruption of administrative bodies. If they want to lay claim to moral leadership, they will have to do it from the front rows of the opposition. It was only when they saw their privileges coming under threat that they showed resistance."


Die Tageszeitung, 03.08.2005

Pop-theorist Diedrich Diederichsen experienced the everyday racism in Paul Haggis' film "L.A. Crash" as a "sort of Tourette's Syndrome" a way of channelling drives in stress situations. "Every dialogue that one of the characters in the film launches, starts with a racist insult. And almost all of the characters have a job with the state or related institutions – as a lawyer, investigative policemen, regular cop, with a health insurance company or a TV company. And the film presents the institutional anti-racism at play in the workplaces in an equally bad light as the spontaneous racism of a cursing motorist or an aggressive policeman."

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