"[Peer Steinbrück, the chancellor-candidate] is a good man, with quite a bold programme for ‘social justice’. Tax increases for the better-off, a proper minimum wage, dual citizenship for immigrants, less elbowing individualism and more solidarity in a society where das Wir entscheidet – ‘it’s the we that counts.’ The German public, surprisingly, mostly agree that increasing taxes is a sound idea. What they resent is that the idea comes from the SPD. In the same way, the Augsburg programme is widely thought to make sense, but the voters don’t fancy Peer Steinbrück. They are pissed off with Angela Merkel’s governing coalition, but reluctant to let go of Mutti’s hand. In short, the public are in one of those sullen, unreasonable moods which make politicians despair." The LRB reports from Germany. [via]
German Brewers Say Fracking Will Mess Up the Country's Beer (via The Atlantic) Brewing the world's best hefeweizen, you see, requires great drinking water -- and fracking, they said, "could reduce or even completely eliminate the security of the water supply." In a letter (in German), the organization (Deutscher Brauer-Bund) argued that this newfangled way of extracting energy would conflict with Europe's oldest food purity law, the Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
Fraud in the organic farming sector has become a thriving international industry made up of a complex network of companies that bears all the marks of traditional organised crime. Excerpts.
It's that time of the year again, when the (television network) continent of Europe comes together to sing, wear interesting clothing, and gyrate before an enthusiastic/baffled world. [more inside]
Ha-Joon Chang on why separating politics from economic policies is bad for democracy. What free-market economists are not telling us is that the politics they want to get rid of are none other than those of democracy itself. When they say we need to insulate economic policies from politics, they are in effect advocating the castration of democracy. (Related FPP.)
Wilder Mann - photos of traditional animal costumes of Europe, by Charles Freger. Also in National Geographic, and in the New York Times' Lens Blog:
“These traditions come from Neolithic times — from shamanism — and they have never stopped,” said Mr. Fréger, 38. “For a few nights you can behave like a goat, drink a lot and forget about being civilized. You can be a wild animal for three days and then you go back to controlling your wildness.”
Russians without Russia is an elegantly designed digital archive of the magazines and newspapers produced by the Russian exile communities of 1920s and 30s.
Can non-Europeans think? So the question remains why not the dignity of "philosophy" and whence the anthropological curiosity of "ethnophilosophy"?
"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
Searching for Doggerland. "For decades North Sea boatmen have been dragging up traces of a vanished world in their nets. Now archaeologists are asking a timely question: What happens to people as their homeland disappears beneath a rising tide?"
Perhaps the most fruitful way to look at the debate between Morgenthau and Marshall that was carried on--largely below the surface, largely without explicit confrontation--at the end of WWII is that it was an attempt to figure out how to resolve call it two historical problems: the problem of European military culture, and the problem of modern industrial war. Economist Brad DeLong explains.
Crime fiction is a magnifying glass that reveals the fingerprints of history. From Holmes and Poirot to Montalbano and the rise of Scandi-noir, Mark Lawson investigates the long tradition of European super-sleuths and their role in turbulent times. [more inside]
The governments of the United Kingdom and Scotland agree on a framework for the latter to vote on independence. Other reporting in the Telegraph, Guardian and the Scottish Sun. The referendum, for this nation of 5.25 million people and a unicorn as its national animal, will be held before the end of 2014. [more inside]
After protests by members and MPs of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn and religious groups, the Athens premiere of the play Corpus Christi was cancelled. A journalist trying to document the protests was reportedly beaten while the police stood by. "A well-known Golden Dawn MP follows me. He punches me twice in the face and knocks me to the ground. While on the ground, I lose my glasses. The Golden Dawn MP kicks me. The police are just two steps away but turn their back". Full translation of the tweets. MP Christos Pappas was later charged for intervening in officers’ attempts to detain a protester. The incident was captured on video, as well as MP Ilias Panayiotaros abusing the actors in a homophobic and racist manner (translation NSFW). [more inside]
Who Draws The Borders Of Culture?(NYTimes) Cultural border, as opposed to national borders, are funny things. One country can contain many (Coke vs. Soda. Vs. Pop, previously and previously-er). Cultural borders often appear as food and drink choices, like sweet tea, forms of alcohol, or BBQ sauce. [more inside]
Actual fascists in actual black shirts are actually marching around Athens waving swastikas and burning torches, and maiming and murdering ethnic minorities, and world governments appear frighteningly relaxed about it as long as the Greek people continue to pay off the debts of the European elite. When the lessons of history are taught by rote, they can be easy to miss when most needed. This time, Europe must remember that the price of fostering fascism is crueller and costlier by far than any national debt. - Laurie Penney: It's not rhetoric to draw parallels with Nazism
Financial Markets, Politics and the New Reality: "Louis M. Bacon is the head of Moore Capital Management, one of the largest and most influential hedge funds in the world. Last week, he announced that he was returning one quarter of his largest fund, about $2 billion, to his investors, [saying] it is impossible to make money when there is heavy political involvement, because political involvement introduces unpredictability in the market… Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who modern investors so admire, [never] used the term "economics" by itself, but only in conjunction with politics; they called it political economy… The investors' problem is that they mistake the period between 1991 and 2008 as the norm and keep waiting for it to return."
The Big Three of EU Foreign Policy: Stefan Lehne on the contrasting roles of Germany, France and the UK.
The ruins of empire: Asia's emergence from western imperialism Moreover, a narcissistic history – one obsessed with western ideals, achievements, failures and challenges – can only retard a useful understanding of the world today. For most people in Europe and America, the history of the present is still largely defined by victories in the second world war and the long standoff with Soviet communism, even though the central event of the modern era, for a majority of the world's population, is the intellectual and political awakening of Asia and its emergence, still incomplete, from the ruins of both Asian and European empires. The much-heralded shift of power from the west to the east may or may not happen. But only neo-imperialist dead-enders will deny that we have edged closer to the cosmopolitan future the first generation of modern Asian thinkers, writers and leaders dreamed of – in which people from different parts of the world meet as equals rather than as masters and slaves, and no one needs to shoot elephants to confirm their supremacy.
You eat too fast, and I understand why your antidyspeptic pill-makers cover your walls, your forests even, with their advertisements.
In 1891 author and lecturer ”Max O’Rell” (being the pen name of one Léon Paul Blouet) published an amusing account of his travels through the States and Eastern Canada - "A Frenchman In America" - that, along with the charming illustrations, reflect on then popular national stereotypes and character and is presented on Project Gutenberg in its entirely. (via)
"Some industry group had managed to put up a poster across the entire door, urging them to vote for adoption"
BitCoin appears to be gaining a measure of stability, at least temporarily, through anger at banks, paypal, visa, etc., the activities of currency traders, and increased activity, as well as the promise of multi-signature transactions. [more inside]
Old Rags is a collection of photographs of beautiful antique, historic and vintage clothing from Europe and North America. A feast of fashion history images from the 17th century to the 1920’s with a brief FAQ page here.
"The gypsy possesses without doubt a high level of natural common sense and skill; from this comes the resourcefulness and trickery that he uses to achieve his ends."
The tendency of existing research to treat the Roma as having first entered European political history with the Nazi genocide disregards a unique six-hundred-year history. It is indeed the case that the Roma, who over long periods of time lived nomadically and possessed no written culture of their own, have left almost no historical accounts of themselves. The heritage and documents therefore do not permit a history of the Roma comparable to that, for example, of the persecuted and expelled French Huguenots. What is available to us, however, is evidence – in the form of literature and art – of the way in which the settled, feudally organized European population experienced a way of life that it perceived as threatening. Despite consisting solely of stories and images that are defensive "distortions", this evidence provides a far from unfavourable basis for an examination of the six-hundred-year history of the European Roma, insofar as it is a history of cultural appropriation characterized by segregation. We encounter the traces of the reality experienced by the Roma almost exclusively through depictions by outsiders, and must use these to imagine those parts considered impossible to represent. The extraneous cultural depictions of the Roma – variously referred to as gypsies, zigeuner, tatern, cigány, çingeneler, and so on – have created heterogeneous units of "erased" identity and cultural attributes. The "invention" of the Gypsy is the underside of the European cultural subject's invention of itself as the agent of civilising progress in the world.
Europe invents the Gypsies: the dark side of modernity
Europe invents the Gypsies: the dark side of modernity
Robert Shiller wants to replace much of existing state debt by selling shares of the “earnings” of national economies, in units of 1/trillon GDP.
If you'd like to know a bit about medieval life in Europe, History on the Net has some information on life in medieval times, prepared as educational summaries for students. If you'd like to know more, Medieval Life And Times has a broader scope, and the surface links often have a number of subsequent links to even more information on sub-topics. If you want even more specifics, here is a list of medieval occupations, some information on buying, selling and bartering in medieval times, and a history of horses in Europe. [more inside]
Discover Europe's television heritage. EUscreen offers free online access to videos, stills, texts and audio from European broadcasters and audiovisual archives. Explore selected content from early 1900s until today. [more inside]
Carla Bley Big Band, Jazzfest Berlin, 1995: On Stage In Cages [13m52s], Setting Calvin's Waltz: Parts (a, b, & c) [27m45s], Who Will Rescue You? [8m] [more inside]
Anti-ACTA protests have begun around Europe after the secret treaty was signed in Tokyo last Friday. Activists have planned larger protests for Saturday 11 February. The European Parliament will formally consider ACTA in June. (previously) [more inside]
Will we be all right in the end? David Runciman on democracy, fatalism, and the European crisis (LRB)
As the former head of Deutsche Bank, Hilmar Kopper was once the most powerful banker in Germany. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the 76-year-old takes stock of his career and the current crisis shaking Europe. The three main constants he has seen in the world, he says, are "money, avarice and greed."
Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
"The political elite have actually no interest in explaining to the people that important decisions are made in Strasbourg; they are only afraid of losing their own power." Jürgen Habermas on the crisis of the European project and how it could be overcome.
A short guide to lazy EU journalism: not sure how the EU works or what institutions are involved? –> Just write “Brussels”. [more inside]
"By putting an [unelected] senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic." This is The Goldman Sachs Project [more inside]
The California—based Oakland Institute released a report earlier this year that documents some of the problems caused by the acquisition of land by foreign firms, including Indian ones, in Ethiopia and other African countries. Putting this global trend of ‘land grab’ under the spotlight, the report highlights the social and environmental costs of this phenomenon that have been largely overlooked by the media. Outlook interviewed Anuradha Mittal, the India—born—and—educated founder and executive president of Oakland Institute, to find out why she thinks India ought to share part of the blame of causing “depravation and destitution” in Ethiopia. text via Outlook [more inside]
The Tribes of Darkest Austria - or: if Africans ruled Anthropology. (slyt)
Europe's 'unitary patent' could impose software patents warns RMS. German courts have recently moved towards software patents upholding a patent on the automatic generation of structured documents in a client-server setting, i.e. XML, HTML, etc. (recently : the U.S. patent war)
Why Africa is leaving Europe behind: Africans are relishing something of a reversal in roles. The former colonial powers in Europe are wrestling with debt crises, austerity budgets, rising unemployment and social turmoil. By contrast much of sub-Saharan Africa can point to robust growth, better balanced books and rising capital inflows. There is an opportunity in this novel scenario: for Africa to assert itself on the global stage, and for European countries to take advantage of their historic footprint in Africa by stimulating commercial expansion to their south. But it is far from clear either side will grasp it. Recently.
Orbán's concept of moral renewal and economic rehabilitation for Hungary has several tenets: Those without work are to be given work; those who are already working should work more in the future, but without being paid more; in the interest of the country's "stability," those who hold political power today should be allowed to remain in office for as long as possible; and those who once had power and did not use it for the benefit of the people should now be punished."Supporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán say he has a strict leadership style, while critics warn of the threat of forced political conformity, Jew-baiting and labor camps. Meanwhile, the European Union is saying nothing, apparently accepting the fact that a member state is getting out of control." [previously]
The EU is to (finally) reform the Common Fisheries Policy [NYT] (BBC Q&A). As fishsubsidy.org note, the industry is currently subsidised by over €1bn a year, and the new policy fails to allow for a large change in fleet size. If you're looking for ways to help on a personal level, mefi's own Zarkonnen has produced a guide to what seafood is safe to ethically eat that I've found useful. [via mefi projects]
Evan Osnos joins a tour group from China as they traverse Europe. In the front row of the bus, Li stood facing the group with a microphone in hand, a posture he would retain for most of our waking hours in the days ahead. In the life of a Chinese tourist, guides play an especially prominent role—translator, raconteur, and field marshal—and Li projected a calm, seasoned air. He often referred to himself in the third person—Guide Li—and he prided himself on efficiency. “Everyone, our watches should be synchronized,” he said. “It is now 7:16 P.M.” He implored us to be five minutes early for every departure. “We flew all the way here,” he said. “Let’s make the most of it.” [more inside]
There is an European Commission budgetary proposal to boost E.U. funding for science and technology by 45% from €55B to €80B by trimming some fat form the controversial Common Agricultural Policy. [more inside]
Albrecht Ritschl (web site / papers) of the London School of Economics says Germans should remember their status as postwar debtors when offering advice to Greece.
The Football Pantheon is a new website by football journalist Miguel Delaney. The aim of the website is to "present objective lists of the greatest clubs, players, countries, managers and so much more." The first entry is a very impressive list of The 50 Greatest European Club Sides, which breaks down the various legendary teams, from the late 19th Century until today, and ranks them according to their achievements.