President Barack Obama speaking in Nordea Concert Hall, Tallinn, Estonia ©  Johan Viirok | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Obama Channels Reagan in Estonia

In the days leading up to President Obama’s state visit to Estonia on September 3rd, the eve before the NATO summit meeting in Wales, details of his schedule, travel plans and meetings were meticulously scrutinized. As streets closed and helicopters circled, the contrast between the heavy security surrounding the Commander in Chief and his message of freedom couldn’t have been starker. Obama’s visit dramatically underscored the complex relationship between freedom and security in a post-9/11 world. …

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The "Honor Bound" sign outside Guantánamo Bay detention facility © Joshua Nistas | US Army
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

On Bitter Satisfaction

The European Court of Human Rights ruling on Polish-CIA collaboration

The verdict was more forceful than expected. On July 24, 2014 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg handed down two unanimous rulings in the cases of Al Nashiri v. Poland and Husayn (Abu Zubydah) v. Poland. The cases concerned the extraordinary rendition by the CIA of two terrorism suspects to a secret detention site in Poland. Both men alleged that in December of 2002, during the early phase of the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” they were secretly transferred to Poland, where they were tortured while being held, for nine and six months respectively, in an unacknowledged detention facility. …

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Juan Perón and José López Rega © Liepaja1941 | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysFascism: Old and NewLiberal Democracy in Question

When Neo-Fascism Was Power in Argentina

An anniversary few want to remember

After forty years, though more historical research is needed on the presidency of Isabel Perón (1974-1976), what we know today leads us to consider that her Peronist government was one of the most violent in the violent history of Argentina. To be sure, political violence was quite extensive prior to the death of her husband, President General Juan Perón. Violence was unleashed before and after 1974 …

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Tear gas attack against mourners of Berkin Elvan © Unknown | Revolution News
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Adding Injustice to Injury

One year on from the Gezi Park protests in Turkey

Our colleague, Zeyno Ustun, is back in Istanbul this month. We corresponded about the situation there on the occasion of the anniversary of the Gezi protests. She reports political paralysis with maximum police presence and sent a report from Amnesty International that she judges to summarize the situation accurately. Zeyno came across the following piece in Revolution News. It is re-posted here with permission. –Jeff Goldfarb

The repression of peaceful protest and the use of abusive force by police continues unabated one year after the Gezi Park protests.

Across Turkey, more than 5,500 people have been prosecuted in connection with the Gezi Park protests. …

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Podemos logo © Podemos | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

In Support of PODEMOS

One of the most appalling and discouraging outcomes of the recent European elections has been the rise and affirmation of a number of far-right, xenophobic, and populist electoral parties in East and Northern Europe and in France. This has been largely the outcome of years of austerity policies and crisis, which have deteriorated the conditions of life for millions of people across the continent. In this discouraging scenario, the most promising novelty has been, in addition to the Syriza’s electoral victory in Greece, the birth and astonishing affirmation (7.9%) of a new organization: Podemos (Spain). Podemos was created only a few months ago, in March, by leftist activists associated with the 15-M movement, and inherited the spirit and organizational methods of the Indignados movement. It opposes austerity policies and defends the welfare state and social rights from the neo-liberal attack supported by both center-left and center-right coalitions across Europe. …

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Brazil vs. North Korea in the 2010 World Cup © Marcello Casal, Jr. | Agência Brasil
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

The Brazilian Discontents behind the World Cup Stage

Se mancha la pelota? (Does the ball get stained?)

In a few days, the eyes of millions of people around the world will be fixed on their TV screens, following a ball rolling in some shining green field in Brazil. They will be expecting to witness one of the most exciting World Cups in history; after all, we Brazilians live in the country of football. But probably very few of these spectators know that more than 250,000 Brazilians had their rights violated and their lives harshly disrupted in the process of making such a sport spectacle possible. Entire communities were evicted to build the facilities for the games and the infrastructure to receive the tourists. The slums and the peripheral neighborhoods of major cities were militarized in a process euphemistically referred to as “pacifying.” Workers were displaced and injured, and died building the new stadiums required by FIFA, while their labor rights remained unobserved. …

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Mosque of the Olten Turkish cultural association at Wangen bei Olten, Switzerland © Nadf | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionMedia & Publics

Banning the Minarets in Switzerland

The limits of the liberal public sphere and the dark side of monstration

There is no problem with Islam in Switzerland. At least, there was none until 2009. But then, confounding poll predictions, and stupefying the Swiss political institutions, religious organizations, as well as mainstream media, 57.5% of the citizen voted a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets. Yet, less than half a million of Muslims lives in the country. The majority of them (90%) comes from Turkey or Central Europe. They amount to eight per cent of the Swiss population. And out of the two hundred Muslim centers in Switzerland, only four mosques had a minaret.

Nonetheless, a Constitutional amendment was necessary, according to the Egerkingen Committee, the promoters of this federal popular initiative. The bill was framed as a preventive strike to stop the “Islamization” of the nation. Western — read “Judeo-Christian” — civilization and women were under the threat of Islam. Thus went the argument. …

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Bribed © Kyolshin | Dreamstime.com
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Conceptions of Corruption, Its Causes, and Its Cure

This is a very brisk walk through a topic that should be taken slowly and treated in depth, but inevitably therefore at much greater length. Not the least of the reasons for engaging with it so briefly is that the institutions, if not always the practice, of Britain, the United States, and other liberal democracies today reflect efforts to rein in corruption that began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but which drew on very ancient arguments about the individual and institutional failings that rot individual character and bring about the downfall of states by weakening their ability to resist foreign attack, or by turning accountable republican government into some form of tyranny. More recent arguments focus on the economic cost of corruption, leading some writers to distinguish quite sharply between political and economic corruption. …

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Brush drawing of Martin Heidegger after a photo by Fritz Eschen © Herbert Wetterauer | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: Extreme Silencing

The Black Notebooks (Die Schwarzen Hefte), containing Martin Heidegger’s assorted thoughts from the 1930s and 40s, throw new light on the self-aggrandizement into totalitarianism of the most German of all philosophers.

The Freiburg professor of philosophy was not yet 50 years old when, in 1937 and 1938, he retraced his way of thought (Denkweg): He conjoined manuscripts of his various books, talks and lectures in a factual (sachlich) and discerning manner, with a view to ascertaining how all of it should be continued, including a publication strategy. Buoyed by the feeling that he had already achieved the “authentic” breakthrough by 1936, as he wrote to his brother Fritz in 1948, he was henceforward convinced of his ability to lead Western philosophy into a form of “thinking” purified by a history of being and event (or enowning) (seins-und ereignisgeschichtlich geläutert) and thus freed …

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