In times of the Internet, historical memory shrinks. Who remembers today that for almost half a century the United States of America represented the realm of enlightenment, truth and progress, while the other side of the Iron Curtain was ruled by arbitrariness, gulags and politically decreed lies? This contrast was inflated by mutual propaganda, certainly, but forced labor camps and those millions of people Stalin had sent to their deaths were bitter reality. There was so little doubt concerning this gruesome past that Solzhenitsyn’s accusations were read worldwide, that is even in Russia. When Gorbachev finally dared to say the truth, the collapse of the regime was inevitable.
Recently (on 14 August) I had the good fortune to follow an interview with the British historian Adam Tooze on Austrian Radio. I was so impressed that I immediately took to reading his book “Crashed. How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World” (Allen Lane 2018) ) – and so an important work finally reached me with a two-year delay. These are my comments:
We are used to measuring this form of government above all by the degree of freedom that a government grants its citizens. Viewed from this perspective, the picture is as bright as it is gloomy. No one prevents me from expressing even the most absurd opinions. I may even call publicly for the overthrow of the government, provided that this is done without insulting specific individuals and without denouncing the democratic constitution as such. Continue reading Is Democracy still alive?
This question offers no foregone conclusion. Before the chairman of the Austrian People’s Party achieved his sensational election success, the judgements of friends and foes could well be subsumed under these two terms: statesman or juvenile juggler. Continue reading Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz – statesman or ingenious juggler?
The best known example of a shitstorm of recent origin is, of course, the “case Sarrazin”. In his book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany is about to abolish itself), 95% of his evidence had been drawn from relevant scientific publications, while the last 5% (particularly his comments on the relative importance of the environment versus genetic predisposition) were a matter of legitimate scientific controversy. The professional publications he used had, however, only reached the tiny audience of researchers with similar interests, that is why they had practically escaped all public attention. Continue reading Sarrazin reloaded
Since the old Babylonians looked up to the stars, man has been thinking about the future, trying to read it from tea leaves, from the livers of sacrificial animals or derive it from the stars of the zodiac. Nowadays, we tend to be more modest: at most we ask what will happen in the next ten to twenty years – for example, how people will judge the Merkel era after her successor occupies her position. Continue reading To „sinn“ or not to „sinn” – that is the question
profil (Austrian weekly): The debt brake advocated by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy is the wrong way?
Stiglitz: Yes, absolutely. Continue reading Stiglitz contra Merkel