Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015 © Mstyslav Chernov | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysEventsFeature

Refugee Crisis and European Shame

On fences and fronts

If we had to describe the European Union’s response to the current refugee crisis with a single word, that word would be “chaos.” If we could use two words, the second word would be “shame,” necessary to refer to what European leaders and technocrats should feel upon reading the statement released by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) on March 22, 2016, announcing that the humanitarian organization would cease all activities connected to Moria, the main camp in the Greek island of Lesvos, where refugees are registered and fingerprinted before being relocated or deported. As Marie Elisabeth Ingres, MSF head of mission in Greece, said, ““We made the extremely difficult decision to end our activities in Moria because continuing to work inside would make us complicit in a system we consider to be both unfair and inhumane …

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Vylet na Ostry, Sumava, July 9, 2011 ©  Safranek-interia.eu|Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
EssaysEventsMedia & Publics

The Discontinuous Borders of the European Union

Migrants, refugees, and the labor market

The powerful image of thousands of migrants marching together on the motorway between Budapest and Vienna, in the first week of September, is one of those images capable of symbolizing a turning point. It made visible the utter failure of the European policies on immigration and political asylum, while symbolizing the ongoing open contestation of the borders of Fortress Europe. As a part of this …

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Painting of Pheidippides as he gave word of the Greek victory over Persia at the Battle of Marathon to the people of Athens. Luc-Olivier Merson, 1869 © Public Domain | Wikimedia Commons
CapitalismDemocracyEssays

The Greek Referendum: A New Battle of Marathon

The historical resonance, significance and challenges of 'no' on July 5th

Some commentators have compared the victory of the “Oxi” at the Greek referendum of July 5th to a Pyrrhic victory, implying that while the anti-austerity camp won this battle, it is doomed to lose the war, strangled by the insurmountable economic difficulties caused by the lack of liquidity. Others have suggested that the referendum looked like the Thermopylae battle of 480 BCE, where three hundred Spartans valiantly fought the Persian army and lost. A better comparison, however, in my judgment is that with the Battle of Marathon. …

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Anti-FRONTEX demonstration on June 6, 2008 at the FRONTEX headquaters in Warsaw, Poland. © 
Noborder Network | Flickr
DemocracyEssays

Fortress Europe and a Mediterranean Cemetery for Migrants

In the night between April 18th and April 19th a boat filled with up to 950 migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea, 70 miles north of Libya, while trying to reach the southern European border. This was not only the greatest tragedy to date involving migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, it is also the last of a long series of deaths: around 14,600 from 1993 to November, 2012; 900 in little more than a year from January, 2014 to April, 2015, before this latest tragedy.

In face of between 700 and 900 deaths, it is difficult to write a series of numbers and data, when anger, sadness, and shame would seem to be a more appropriate response. …

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A vigil in Luxembourg for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack, featuring one of its controversial covers ©  Valentina Calà | Flickr
DemocracyEssaysThe Left

Is Solidarity without Identity Possible?

On the Charlie Hebdo attack

The time I saw Charb in Paris was January 24, 2010, the day of the crowded commemoration of the French philosopher and activist Daniel Bensaïd at La Mutualité. During the speeches, Charb kept drawing and projecting vignettes about his comrade Daniel, whose book, Marx: Mode d’Emploi, he had illustrated a year earlier. In the deep sadness that filled the big room his vignettes constantly reminded us of Bensaïd’s subtle humor, of his little malicious smile with which he used to charm us all, slowly helping us to heal the loss. Director of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Charb was one of the ten cartoonists and journalists killed, together with two policemen, in the ferocious attack of January 7, 2015. …

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"Stored Emotions" © Dar'ya Sipyeykina | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysTheory & Practice

The Capitalism of Affects

In her groundbreaking book about emotional labor, The Managed Heart, Arlie Russell Hochshild suggests that emotions are not simply stored in us waiting to be expressed: they are also produced and managed. The notion and practice of affects management, both privately and socially, are not specific to capitalism. Hellenistic philosophers made up a new word to convey this very idea: metriopatheia, from pathos, affect, and metrios, a word that conveys both the notion of measure and that of moderation. As Foucault correctly noted, the management or negotiation of pathē in Greek and Roman philosophers, and in particular in the Stoics, is constitutive part of a process of subject formation, utilizing what Foucault calls techniques of the self, through which a specific and historically determined subject constitutes himself as capable of self-determination and self-mastery through a process that was social and individual at the same time. …

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Danger sign © Mary Crandall | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysThe Left

On the Heilbroner Center’s Manifesto

Explanation and Critique

In our opinion, the document drafted by Julia Ott and Will Milberg for the new Robert L. Heilbroner Center for Capitalism Studies should be the beginning of a debate among NSSR faculty about the Center’s mission rather than a final manifesto. There are many claims in the document with which we wholeheartedly agree: the pressing necessity to return to discussing and analyzing large structures, long processes, and big questions; the idea that capitalism must be a central object of study and concern; the interpretation of capitalism as a social process; the identification of various power relations as critical determinants of economic outcomes; and the acknowledgment that economic theories operate as political ideologies. Further, we agree with Ott and Milberg that capitalism “should not be assumed.” However, we think that it should not be only “explained,” as the present document suggests, but also, by the same token, criticized. Critique, indeed, is a constitutive part of the explanation of social phenomena and processes, and explaining capitalism without criticizing it does amount to assuming it. …

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