Streit ums Politische 2016/17: »Das Ende Europas«

In the medium term, Europe will perhaps hold only six percent of the world’s population. Today the middle-classes are growing in emerging countries like Vietnam, Nigeria and South Korea but no longer in Great Britain, Belgium or Finland. On the contrary: people dread the decline and, resenting the other, are retreating into an identity with phantasmagorical traits. In EU countries the Austrian Freedom Party, the French Front National, the Dutch Freedom Party and the Danish People’s Party, with almost 30 percent of the vote, seem to be expressions of anti-European sentiment. At the point when Europe is becoming more provincial in the context of global society, is the continent in the process of dismembering itself?

The new season in the »Streit ums Politische« series deals with Europe’s social, political and cultural endgames. Why are the Europeans so angry, disheartened and helpless? Is it due to a misperception by people who have fallen in love with failure, or a realistic image of a European population who mistrust their political elites? Perhaps the question of the impossibility of Europe needs to be asked in order to make visible its possibility as a unique project of transnational interconnectedness on the global political stage. This is what Heinz Bude will be discussing with his guests on four evenings in the fall of 2016. Among them is Ulrich Bielefeld, sociologist and author of »Nation and Society« from the Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung as well as Luuk von Middelaar, who has been an advisor and speechwriter for Hermann Van Rumpuy, the first permanent president of the European Council for many years. His Book »The Passage to Europe: A History of a Beginning « was awarded with the European Book Prize in 2012 and he now teaches at the Universities of Leiden and Louvain.

Heinz Bude is Professor of Macrosociology at the University of Kassel. His research focuses on changes in social inequality and its implications for the self-actualisation of contemporary societies. »Gesellschaft der Angst« (»Society of Fear«) was published in 2014 and is now in its sixth edition; »Das Gefühl der Welt. Über die Macht von Stimmungen« (»The Feeling of the World. On the Power of Sentiments«) was published in 2016.

Streit ums Politische 2015/16: Homeless Anticapitalism

Part of the aftershock of the 2008 crisis, when it looked like the global financial system might crash, was a feeling of unease about the capitalism to which we had tied our fate. But since then it has become clear that capitalism and crisis go hand in hand. Even the neoliberal propagandists of this economic system of infinite boom and boundless availability admit as much. Yet the more we are coerced into accepting that there is no alternative, the stronger our doubts grow about how long this can go on. Many people, especially in Germany, feel we are dangerously well off when compared to France, Italy or Greece. An expression of this mood of unease and suspicion is a homeless anti-capitalism. Sometimes based on right-wing thoughts, sometimes on left, people warn that we are on a sinking ship but no-one dares to ready the lifeboats. Where is the rescue going to come from in this danger? The new season in our »Streit ums Politische« series deals with the reasons for the development and forms of expression of this »homeless anti-capitalism« which some people fear and upon which others build their hopes.

Streit ums Politische 2014/15: Fear and Hatred in Democracy

When a society is gripped by an atmosphere of fear, as is shown by the experience of the 20th century, democracy becomes imperilled. Then, rather than an equitable balance of interests, hatred of the rich, freeloaders and foreigners holds sway. Given that Europe can only barely keep itself together, that society’s centre ground is increasingly being divided into an elite and an underclass, and that capitalism – which insists on being without alternative – appears to be living on borrowed time, the new »Streit ums Politische« series investigates the impulses which rule the political landscape. Are we living today in a society of fear in which the politics of hate receive expression? Who is entrenching themselves behind defensiveness and identification of hate figures and which groups are still responsive to a critical analysis of their way of life? Or is everything just drowning in entertainment, fun and games? Political theorists contend that a wider perspective must be taken and questions posed about the logic of impulses in a democracy. Ultimately, political disputes are not only about competing solutions to problems but also battles between different attitudes towards life and visions of existence. Democracy has spawned liberating revolutions, terrible regression and endless boredom. It is not easy to identify which is preferable.