Film still from Charlie Chaplin’s movie The Great Dictator (1940).

Issue #76
“The Perfect Storm”
With: Sven Lütticken, Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Stephen Squibb, Anton Vidokle, Hito Steyerl, Ilya Budraitskis, Keti Chukhrov, Boris Buden, Ewa Majewska, Kuba Szreder, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Tony Wood, and Jonas Staal
“How Much Fascism?” asked the curatorial collective WHW. Quite a bit, it would appear. As always, the prefix “neo-” can stand for many differences in the repetition, yet the noun asserts itself with all the subtle grace of an elephant in the room. Historical fascism, too, was a many-headed hydra, and scholarly struggles over exact definitions are ongoing, and will continue, for there is no Platonic Idea, but rather a set of historically grown family resemblances—revolving around tropes such…
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10 Essays October 2016
Is art a currency? Investor Stefan Simchowitz thinks so. He wrote with uncompromising clarity about the post-Brexit era: “Art will effectively continue its structural function as an alternative currency that hedges against inflation and currency depreciation.” 1 Have silver paintings become a proxy gold standard? 2 How did it come to this? During the ongoing crisis, investors were showered with tax money, which then went into freeport collections, tower mansions, and shell companies….
The German socialist August Bebel once called anti-Semitism “the socialism of fools.” A fool from the lower classes, the thinking went, indignant at the existing state of things but unable or unwilling to locate the real source of his unhappiness in the capitalist mode of production, instead found a facile but false target in the Jews. The result of this fool’s bad decision would prove catastrophic: instead of joining the ranks of socialists, he became their fiercest and most dangerous…
I. Why “Violence”? Brexit, US elections, Russian elections, Georgian elections: after so many political disasters, the limits and goals of emancipation seem to be blurred. Yet they have to be reinstituted again in the midst of a most dispiriting situation—when the Left has fallen into the trap of populism, when liberals resort to conservative moralism, when neoliberals claim avant-garde subjectivity, and when a reversion to tribalism is mistaken for anticapitalism. Reactions to the…
Is there such thing as contemporary fascism? Our major difficulty in trying to answer this question is that we rely almost exclusively on historical analogy. We are like dogmatic philosophical descriptivists who believe that the meaning of the word “fascism” was defined long ago by a certain set of descriptive features, and we now meticulously explore reality in search of similar ones. While these days reality, for its part, offers ever more socioeconomic, political, and cultural points of…
Our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption. The same applies to our view of the past, which is the concern of history. The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. — Walter Benjamin , Theses on the Philosophy of History In the 1995 movie La Haine , Mathieu Kassovitz’s stinging vision of the plight of the Parisian suburbs, one of…
Who Makes the Nazis?
Sven Lütticken
In the current political and social catastrophe, the denizens of the art world overwhelmingly take the position of concerned liberals, shaking their heads in disbelief at the rise of Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, UKIP, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Pegida, and so on. Let’s call it Wolfgang Tillmans Syndrome. The photographer, who in the run-up to the Brexit referendum launched a pro-EU poster campaign, is the perfect poster boy for the EU and the international metropolitan lifestyle it…
“How could the masses be made to desire their own repression?” was the question Wilhelm Reich famously asked in the wake of the Reichstagsbrandverordnung (Reichstag Fire Decree, February 28, 1933), which suspended the civil rights protections afforded by the Weimar Republic’s democratic constitution. 1 Hitler had been appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933 and Reich was trying to grapple with the fact that the German people had apparently chosen the authoritarian politics promoted by…
1. Populism is in the air. Establishment media outlets have struggled to make sense of the unaccustomed turbulence that has seized hold of politics in the US and UK this past twelve months. Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, Brexit: these things were not supposed to even stand a chance of happening. One term a great many pundits and analysts have fastened onto, like an analytical life jacket, is “populism.” Columnists and political reporters in the US have described both Trump’s and Sanders’s…
Jonas Staal
This text was originally written for the e-flux project Superhumanity, in response to the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial, which was entitled “Are We Human?” The EU Buffer State Asking ourselves the question “Are we human?” in the context of Istanbul today forces us to confront the inhuman design of the European Union. Only a few years ago, Turkey was still in the race to become a new EU member state, a bid that was blocked due to, on the one hand, the regime’s brutal crackdown…

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