CapitalismEssays

Israelis in Berlin and The Elephant in the Room

Notes on migration, pudding, an island economy, and frustrating metaphors (with cream on top)

“Fight from Tel Aviv, not from Berlin,” demanded former Minister of Immigrant Absorption Uzi Baram in Haaretz, while the New York Times  featured the infantile (or “still adolescent”) Israeli society as the center of frustration for many Israelis now clamoring to Berlin because of the impossible price of living. The coverage of Baram’s outcry in the German national and German Jewish press resisted the Holocaust metaphors only barely. …

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Arts & DesignMulti MediaVideo

Spatial Ordering of Exile: The Architecture of Palestinian Refugee Camps

Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal are a team of two extraordinary architects who live permanently at Beit Sahour on the outskirts of Bethelem in Palestine. They have worked since 2007 to revitalize, reconstruct, take apart, and reconceive both the ruins and abandoned spaces that are the remnants of the vast spaces throughout Palestine that have been destroyed, dispossessed, cut into pieces over some sixty years since the Nakba in l947. Their work is extraordinary because it is unique in every way: from those they call on to work with them (artists, film makers, architects, young people from the refugee camps) to the visions they conceive and the materials and histories on which they draw. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

Reflections on Ferguson

I have spent much of my academic career researching and writing about the Civil Rights Movement. Today, I am heartbroken, and I believe my greatest heroes would be too — Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter, Ida B. Wells, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King Jr., are all collectively turning in their graves. My heart breaks for America because it feels like the struggle, and sacrifice of countless civil rights activists have in part been futile. …

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CapitalismEssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Democracy’s Crisis

We are currently experiencing a major crisis of democracy. What is at stake here is the specifically political dimension of a broader, multifaceted crisis, which also has other important dimensions — for example, economic, financial, ecological, and social. Taken together, all of these aspects, including the political dimension of democratic crisis, add up to a “general crisis.” It is at bottom a crisis of capitalism — or rather, of our current, historically specific form of capitalism: financialized, globalizing, neoliberal capitalism. …

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Arts & DesignEssays

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews

The return of the secular Jew to a happier Poland

The grand opening of Polin or the Museum of the History of Polish Jews at the end of October was a widely anticipated event, and when its exhibition was finally revealed, the celebration was covered by major media in Europe, the U.S., and, unsurprisingly, Israel. Timothy Garton Ash and Anne Applebaum, among others, acknowledged Poland’s efforts to deal with its own history of Polish-Jewish relations. In the Financial Times Tony Barber emphasized how, today, Warsaw is a safer place for Jews than Berlin or Paris. All this praise comes a long way from the usual connotation: Poland as the place of Nazi death camps. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Old Patterns of the New Afghan Democracy

The Ghani-Abdullah Agreement and national and international stability in historical perspective

After a long electoral process, on September 27, 2014, Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the Afghan president. The arrangements to grant him that office, which was earned in a controversial election, were not easy, because it forced a generous conciliation with Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s chief rival. Abdullah was granted the role of chief executive of the government, a sort of Afghan Prime Minister.

As Michael Keating points out, this is a blow to the trustworthiness of the electoral process, which serves precisely to avoid this sort of agreement among elites. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionSex & Gender

LGBTQI Rights and Brazil’s Presidential Election

Controversy and the necessity to go beyond elections

For the first time in Brazil’s recent democratic history, which began in 1984 after the country’s twenty-one-year long dictatorship ended, the LGBTQI rights have appeared as the main controversial topic in this year’s presidential election. In the space of two weeks during the election first round, the topic got more attention and at a broader length than perhaps it has had previously in any of the eight democratically elected governments of the past. …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall

At the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall I noticed fear.

I did not find myself in Angela Merkel’s words who stated that “I had to wait 35 years for that feeling of liberty.”

I hear nervousness in The New York Times article that covers the implosion of the Socialist Republic through an exodus-misery frame. What are they afraid of? Why can’t they acknowledge that the contemporary U.S. or Germany can learn a thing or two from that past? The German Democratic Republic, the former East Germany, was hardly a quixotic place that I wish to reinstate, but I notice the willful erasure of any and all achievements of that short-lived social experiment; …

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EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

America as a Lottery

In a series of recent works on the rise of inequality in the United States and other countries, economists have proposed a number of policies that might help reverse current trends. But critics of Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty also often complain that their proposals aren’t feasible politically.

But why should the proposal of polices meant to promote a more egalitarian society have become a political non-starter in the United States, of all countries? …

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