This article argues that democracy is on life support in the United States. Throughout the social order, the forces of predatory capitalism are on the march—dismantling the welfare state, corrupting politics with outside money, defunding higher education, expanding the corporate-surveillance-military state, widening inequalities in wealth and income, and waging a war on low income and poor minorities. As market mentalities and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from higher education to health care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good. This article argues that given this current crisis, educators, artists, intellectuals, youth, and workers need a new political and pedagogical language centered around the notion of radical democracy in order to address the changing contexts and issues facing a world in which capital draws upon an unprecedented convergence of resources—financial, cultural, political, economic, scientific, military, and technological—to exercise powerful and diverse forms of control.
This article examines current debates for and against Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) in Myanmar. The analysis, based on interviews with key local, national, and international actors involved in HMA, reveals why so many of them regard the mapping and removal of “nuisance” landmines as posing a security threat to the peace process. (Landmines deny people access to territory; when conflict ends, these landmines no longer serve a strategic purpose and thus become a dangerous nuisance.) These same debates also shed light on the growing role risk management approaches now take in Myanmar as a response to decades of authoritarian misrule by a succession of military regimes. The landmines, although buried in the ground, actively unsettle such good governance initiatives and the neoliberal development projects to which they are often linked, most often by reterritorializing military, humanitarian, political, and economic authority in overlapping and conflicting ways at multiple scales. The findings reveal why HMA actors resist labeling the crisis landmine contamination poses to civilians as a “crisis” that requires immediate humanitarian action.
The End of Nation-States, the Rise of Ethnic and Global Sovereignties?
In the post–Cold War era, political violence associated with wars of gain is key to economic and political transformations across nation-states.1 Under the ‘Pax Americana’ multinational corporations interacting in ‘old boy’ networks of the global capitalist class control armaments, oil production, and cyberspace. Industrial and military multinationals as well as global financial institutions, are extending their decision-making structures while becoming more concentrated; 2 there is a “hyperconcentration of (unregulated) economic and military power” predominantly Euro-American (Virilio 1997: 99). Global militarization legitimized in discourses of ‘protecting freedom’ secures world oil and gas resources for Euro-American and Sinic industrial use, promotes corporate profits, and supports the post-2000 Pax Americana. The Pax’s ‘command and control’ system seeks to checkmate Muslim control of 60 percent of world crude oil supplies by destroying ‘rogue’ regimes and investing in multinational corporations exploiting oil, diamonds, coltan, and other (finite) industrial resources in non-Muslim controlled African states (Meacher 2003). Preparation for total war is economic war.
In this paper I examine the use of the concept of "normality" in debates about German foreign policy since unification. In the early 1990s, left-wing intellectuals such as Jürgen Habermas tended to criticize the idea of "normality" in favor of a form of German exceptionalism based on responsibility for the Nazi past. A foreign policy based on the idea of "normality" was associated above all with the greater use of military force, which the right advocated and the left opposed. Thus, "normality" became a synonym for Bündnisfähigkeit. Yet, from the mid 1990s onwards, some Social Democrats such as Egon Bahr began to use the concept of "normality" to refer instead to a foreign policy based on sovereignty and the pursuit of national interests. Although a consensus has now emerged in Germany around this realist definition of foreign-policy "normality," it is inadequate to capture the complex shift in the foreign policy of the Federal Republic since unification.
Felix Philipp Lutz
German political culture has been undergoing gradual but significant changes since unification. Military engagements in combat missions, the introduction of a professional army, and a remarkable loss of recent historical knowledge mostly within the younger generations are hallmarks of the new millennium. Extensive education about the Holocaust is still prevalent and there is a strong continuity of attitudes and orientations toward the Nazi era and the Holocaust reaching back to the 1980s. Nevertheless, a lack of knowledge about history-not only the World War II period, but also about East and West Germany-in the age group of people under thirty is staggering. The fading away of the generation of victims who are the last ones to tell the story of persecution during the Holocaust and a parallel rise of new actors and technologies, present challenges to the educational system and the current political culture of Germany.
The 2011 Libya campaign highlighted the divergence of interests between France and Germany within the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in matters of Middle East and global security. This divergence calls for a reassessment of the meaning of their bilateral cooperation, as defined in the Treaty of Friendship between France and Germany, otherwise known as the Élysée Treaty, signed on 22 January 1963 by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle. This article focuses on France, which engaged militarily in Libya cooperating with the United Kingdom as its principal European partner. Germany, for reasons explained by its history, political culture, and the nature of its federal system, chose to abstain in the United Nations vote to authorize the campaign. These differences between France and Germany suggest a contrast in their respective security and, particularly defense, policy objectives on the fiftieth anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.
Military Service by Religious Israeli Women as a Process of Social Legitimation
Women have long served in the Israel Defense Forces, notwithstanding strong opposition by the Chief Rabbinate. In the twenty-first century, approximately 25 percent of female graduates of Israel’s religious high school system enlist, despite social disapproval. Israel’s Orthodox community has largely ignored the issue in the past. Recently, however, rabbis and public figures within the religious community have acknowledged the reality of women’s conscription and have shown some willingness to address it. Although religious female soldiers are still atypical, they are no longer viewed as the anathema they once were. This article presents a possible model for this legitimation as a social process. It then describes the relationship between religious women, military service, and conscription in Israel, concluding with a suggestion about broader contexts within which this change can be viewed.
From National Catastrophes to Ecological Disasters
Netta Bar Yosef-Paz
This article examines contemporary Hebrew dystopic novels in which ecological issues play a critical role, reflecting an increasing preoccupation of Israeli culture and society with the environment. The literary turn to dystopia is not new, but whereas Israeli dystopias published in the 1980s–1990s focused mainly on military apocalyptic visions, current novels combine these national anxieties with ecological dangers, following present-day trends in American literature and cinema. These contemporary dystopias either conjoin a national crises with an ecological disaster as the source of the catastrophe or represent environmental recklessness as evidence of moral corruption, linking ecological and social injustice to the emergence of a Jewish theocracy. Offering an ecocritical reading of these novels, the article pinpoints the American cultural influence on the narratives. This thematic shift in Hebrew fiction, I argue, reflects a rising environmental awareness and positions literature as a major arena in which these issues are raised.
This article discusses associative initiatives by two underprivileged sectors in Israel in the 1950s and 1960s: inhabitants of low-income neighborhoods on the fringes of Tel Aviv and Arab citizens living in towns and villages under supervision of the Military Administration. Based on varied archival sources comprised largely of letters and memoranda written by members of the associations, the study examines encounters that took place (usually in writing but sometimes face-to-face as well) between marginalized citizens and policymakers from the political (local or national) center. I contend that the effect of the associative initiatives should be viewed through the prism of the community’s sense of self-value and the civic skills that it imparts, regardless of the concrete attainment of goals. I argue that such an inquiry into voluntary associations, both formal (registered) and informal (non-registered), yields a more complex picture of the limited Israeli democracy of the country’s first two decades.
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
The Oslo peace process has effectively stalled and failed. In this article I show that by positioning the Oslo process and any political and civic forces involved with it as tainted by irrational and emotional weakness, neo-conservative figures and institutions within Israel have successfully argued for a hyper-masculinized Israeli security paradigm. In this configuration, the process of cooperation and the acknowledgement of Palestinian claims are viewed as weak and reprehensible, while aggressive military strategies, deterrence, and the demand for unequivocal Palestinian acceptance of Israel’s terms are perceived as rational and responsible actions that protect Israeli interests. By conflating security with the state, Israeli political leaders perpetuate the conflict rather than resolve it.