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What’s Hot? 08/14/20


Trending Today on Twitter – 8/14/20
1. Drake
2. Bulls
3. #FridayFeeling
4. #FridayMotivation
5. #FridayVibes
6. James Woods
7. #fridaymorning
8. #CancelNeflixATLALiveAction
10. Dolph
Source: Twitter

Trending Today on Google – 8/14/20
1. Michael Cohen book
2. Project Power
3. Cannon Hinnant
4. Fortnite
5. Rick and Morty
6. QAnon
7. Chrissy Teigen
8. UAE
9. AMC
10. Brooklyn Nets
Source: Google

Top Five on Spotify – 8/14/20
1. WAP (feat. Megan Thee Stallion) – Cardi B
2. ROCKSTAR (feat. Roddy Ricch) – DaBaby
3. Wishing Well – Juice WRLD
4. Smile (with The Weeknd) – Juice WRLD
5. Come & Go (with Marshmello) – Juice WRLD
Source: Spotify

Top Five on Apple Music – 8/14/20
1. WAP (feat. Megan Thee Stallion) – Cardi B
2. Mood Swings (feat. Lil Tjay) – Pop Smoke
3. For The Night (feat. Lil Baby & DaBaby) – Pop Smoke
4. ROCKSTAR (feat. Roddy Ricch) – DaBaby
5. We Paid – Lil Baby & 42 Dugg
Source: Apple Music

TV Shows Trending on Streaming Services – 8/14/20
1. The Umbrella Academy  – Netflix
2. The Boys – Prime Video
3. Good Girls – Nextflix
4. Yellowstone – Peacock
5. Dark – Netflix
Source: Reelgood

Trending Today on YouTube – 8/14/20
1. I Bought A Private Island
2. YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Kacey talk
3. Polo G – Martin & Gina
4. 2020 XXL Freshmen Read Mean Comments
5. The Devil All the Time
Source: YouTube

Netflix Top 5 in the U.S. Today – 8/14/20
1. The Lost Husband
2. The Umbrella Academy
3. Mr. Peabody & Sherman
4. World’s Most Wanted
5. The Seven Deadly Sins
Source: Netflix

Vaping Linked to COVID-19 Risk in Teens and Young Adults


*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Science Codex.

Vaping is linked to a substantially increased risk of COVID-19 among teenagers and young adults, according to a new study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study, which will be published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to examine connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 using U.S. population-based data collected during the pandemic.

Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, the research found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes.

“Teens and young adults need to know that if you use e-cigarettes, you are likely at immediate risk of COVID-19 because you are damaging your lungs,” said the study’s senior author, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, professor of pediatrics.

“This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one,” said the study’s lead author, postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, Ph.D.

Data were collected via online surveys conducted in May. Surveys were completed by 4,351 participants ages 13 to 24 who lived in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories.

Participants answered questions about whether they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, as well as whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days. They were asked if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, received a test for COVID-19, or received a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 after being tested.

Among the participants who were tested for COVID-19, those who had ever used e-cigarettes were five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than nonusers. Those who had used both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 6.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Source: Science Codex

Promises Found to Reduce Cheating in Large Study of Adolescents


*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.

New research has found that adolescents who promised to be truthful were less likely to ‘cheat’ than those who did not, even when they could not be found out.

The study, of 640 10 to 14-year-olds in India, was designed in a way that meant it was impossible to tell who had and had not kept their promise — suggesting it is not just the fear of social retaliation that makes people stick to their word.

The team of researchers included two newly appointed members of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, and the study is published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making.

The research used a series of experiments to test the effectiveness of inviting participants to promise to be truthful, with points that would later be converted into prizes as an incentive. For example, participants played a game in which they mentally chose a location in a box with 16 dice, shook the box, and recorded the number of the die falling in their chosen position. Prizes were proportional to their total reported scores across fifteen rounds. As the initial choice was private, opportunistic, and unobservable switching to a higher scoring die was possible.

Before the task, the adolescents received a choice to promise to be truthful or not. To make promising attractive for participants, those who did so received extra points. This gave even potentially dishonest participants an incentive to choose to promise. Control groups of participants could choose between the same incentives but did not have to promise.

The authors were able to measure the degree of dishonesty by comparing participants’ reported results to what would be statistically expected. Compared to control groups, promises in the study systematically lowered cheating rates, and the authors conclude that they could be a simple tool to reduce dishonest behavior.

Source: ScienceDaily

Andy Warhol Exhibition at Tate Modern


Words Emily Sandiford

After months of Covid-enforced closure the Tate’s galleries have reopened their doors to welcome back visitors.
The Andy Warhol exhibition at Tate Modern ran for less than a week before the gallery’s closure, but…

Japanese Restaurant ‘Tori Tori Santa Fe’ Inspired by Samurai Armors


Words TL Team

Inspired from Samurai armors and Japanese writing characters (Kanji), the Tori Tori Santa Fe in Mexico City is the fifth project from the renowned line of Japanese restaurants. Designed by local architecture practice Esrawe Studio

Coco Chocolatier Is Inspired by Art

Coco Chocolatier Is Inspired by Art

Words Francois Correia

Born in Scotland, raised in Colombia, the leading British ethical chocolate manufacturer COCO Chocolatier aims to inspire the consumer and industry that a different road to chocolate production is possible – uniting art and ethics.

Hagia Sophia: politics before culture


On 10 July 2020, by a decree of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the basilica of Hagia Sophia – the central church of the Byzantine Empire and the entire Orthodox world, erected by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D. – was turned from a museum into a mosque. The conversion attracted worldwide attention. In a rare show of unanimity, the leaders of the US, the EU and Russia, as well as most international institutions, appealed to Erdoğan not to go ahead with the plan. However, all the warnings were ignored and the first festive Muslim service was held on 24 July, with the country’s leadership in attendance.

Since Hagia Sophia is located on Turkish territory, the Turks have the right to use it for religious services if they wish. However, that is only a superficial truth. The Hagia Sophia has always held a deep spiritual, cultural as well as historical value and is considered to be the most important Christian church, and not only for the Orthodox community. For the whole world, Hagia Sophia represents the principal monument of Byzantine civilization. In 1985, UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site.

The Ottomans themselves understood Hagia Sophia’s symbolic significance. The first thing Mehmed II did after his conquest of Constantinople in 1453 was to turn it into a mosque, in a clear symbolic gesture. In 1935, in equally symbolic fashion, the founder of the secular Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, turned the mosque into a museum. This was an unambiguous declaration of his intention to transform the Turkish Republic from an empire based on religion into a secular state that aspired to unify with Europe.

Now, by reclassifying Hagia Sophia as a mosque, Erdoğan is also dealing in symbolism. There is, after all, no practical need to establish another mosque in the centre of Istanbul. The famous Blue Mosque stands right next to Hagia Sophia. Like most Turkish mosques, it was modelled on Hagia Sophia, so impressed were the Muslim architects by this creation from the era of Justinian. There are also many bigger and smaller mosques in the area.

Erdoğan is sending three messages. The first is addressed to his conservative Muslim constituency in Turkey, which overwhelmingly supports the conversion, regardless of the political, cultural and economic damage. They view it as a symbol of victory over the Christian world. What we see here is an attempt to score points before the next general election, in which the victory of Erdogan’s AKP is by no means guaranteed.

Second, Erdoğan is aiming to consolidate his status across the entire Muslim world as the ‘sultan’ of the Muslim countries of the Mediterranean region. He has long been positioning himself thus and plans many of his foreign policy goals in order to enhance this status.

Finally, it is a gesture aimed at the Christian world, Europe and all international institutions categorically opposed to this act. Everyone is perfectly clear that this is not merely the transformation of a museum into active sacral space. What we are seeing is Erdoğan and the Turkish Republic demonstratively rejecting the direction set by the ‘father of the nation’, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, nearly a century ago.

Hagia Sophia is also, of course, of immense architectural and aesthetic significance. Abbot Suger, who conceived and built the first Gothic church on the outskirts of Paris, the Abbey of Saint-Denis, wrote that he was inspired by Hagia Sophia. What Abbot seemed to have had in mind was the unique light architecture of the basilica of Constantinople. In the tenth century, the Russian envoys of Prince Vladimir were stunned by the image of light and space created by this unique building. As reported in the Primary Chronicle, it was this impression of dwelling ‘between heaven and earth’ that contributed to the decision to adopt the new faith from Byzantium.

Instead of professional builders, Justinian entrusted the architecture to two renowned mathematicians and opticians: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus. The forty windows supporting the central dome create a ring of light that illuminates the dome by day and night. The light creates a shining cloud beneath the dome, symbolizing the presence of God – the core image of the Byzantine empire, known as kavod in Hebrew and doxa in Greek.

Hagia Sophia’s interior dome with Islamic elements on the top. Istanbul. Photo by Erik Törner from Flickr

The mosaics further amplify the resonance of the basilica as a space. Before the ninth century, when the worship of icons was introduced, the cathedral had contained no figurative mosaics. Instead, the image of God was created by the dramaturgy of light; any ‘pictures’ on the walls and columns would have been superfluous. This light effect will remain even once the mosaics have been covered.

What about the practical implications of the conversion for scholars and ordinary visitors alike? Visits will be limited to periods between prayer times, which take place five times a day. A significant part of the building will be inaccessible, as is also the case with the Blue Mosque. The main mosaic icons on the altar have already been covered by curious drapes that disfigure the historic space. During the Ottoman period, the mosaics were daubed over with white lime and were first revealed to the world as a result of the restoration carried out in the early 1930s. The American archaeologist Thomas Whittemore not only covered the cost of the restoration but also published the resulting research material. This marked the start of the serious study of the Hagia Sophia by leading scholars of Byzantine art and culminated in the basilica being turned into a museum. This magnificent achievement has now been reversed.

A closeup of the Deësis mosaic (Δέησις, “Entreaty”) which probably dates from 1261. Photo by brewbooks from Flickr

Other visible losses include the unique marble floor, most of which has been preserved since the sixth century. Its study is crucial to the understanding of the original construction of the sacral space of Hagia Sophia. The entire floor has now been covered by carpets.

Imperial Gate mosaics in the former basilica Hagia Sophia Photograph: Myrabella Derivative work: Myrabella / Public domain

The conversion of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is not the first such case. The Hagia Sophia in Trabzon was converted into a mosque seven years ago, having been a museum since 1964.  The magnificent thirteenth-century frescoes in the narthex (entrance) can still be viewed, but all those within the church have been covered by drapes. The frescoes in the lower part of the dome have also been hidden from sight.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will likewise be largely deprived of its scholarly significance. After the Turkish authorities completely ignored a letter written by leading Byzantine scholars, stating in detail the damage that its loss of museum status would cause, the World Congress of Byzantine Studies, which was due to be held in Istanbul in August 2021, was postponed by a year and moved to a different location. It is likely that the question of removing the Hagia Sophia from the UNESCO list will also be raised.

As a museum, Hagia Sophia had been generating tens of thousands of euros of revenue annually. To say nothing of the indirect impact on tourism in general: many people are drawn to Istanbul precisely to visit Hagia Sophia.

The Turkish authorities are fully aware of all this. For the past four years, they had regularly raised the prospect of conversion. Now they have carried out their threat. The result is what virtually the entire world regards as a cultural disaster. It has also served to escalate what many see as an ongoing war between Muslims and Christians. Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow, declared that ‘a threat to Hagia Sophia is tantamount to a threat to the whole of Christian civilization, to our spirituality and history’.

Time will tell whether Erdoğan’s calculations pay off. He has one last powerful political card to play: Turkey’s departure from NATO. This threat probably explains why the West’s reaction has been so soft, despite the strong warnings sent earlier. Western politicians will likely try to forget about the transformation of the museum of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Politics has trumped everything else.

Belarus: Status quo at what price?


Osteuropa: The Belarusian regime clearly denies its citizens the right to change their government through elections. What do the current events tell us?

Astrid Sahm: Lukashenka is proving that he and his apparatus are prepared to go to any length to stay in control of the country. The official election result, which had Lukashenka winning with over 80 percent of the vote, signals that he has no intention of a rapprochement with his political opponents. Otherwise he would have been satisfied with, say, 58 percent. His claim that the protests are driven from abroad is a denial of Belarusian citizens’ capacity for independent thought or action.

What should we make of the official result?

There was obviously a large number of polling stations where the actual result differed significantly from the information provided by the Central Electoral Commission. On the day after the election, opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya claimed to have won in at least 250 districts – some by a clear margin. But it would be naive to imagine that Lukashenka would agree to a nationwide re-count or a re-election, or that he would negotiate with Tsikhanouskaya’s staff. Likewise, the courts are also likely to reject the numerous complaints of independent election observers and voters.

What triggered violence on election night and the following day?

The street protests on election night were definitely not Tsikhanouskaya’s intention. Throughout the election campaign, her team had been fully committed to avoiding breaking any laws or regulations. For example, on 6 August, she cancelled a campaign event in Minsk after the city administration scheduled a concert at the same location. There was not supposed to be any escalation. Instead, Tsikhanouskaya appealed to supporters to draw attention to potential voter fraud by using IT techniques and by wearing white armbands and folding ballot papers like concertinas – and to address complaints to the authorities.

She also made a strong pitch to the security forces and state representatives, announcing that should she win, any officials not guilty of offences would be left in office. During rallies, she regularly thanked the police for ensuring the safety of participants and called on them not to take action against their own people, so long as they were protesting peacefully. She thus sent a clear message that she was not calling for demonstrations on the Plošča (Independence Square, Minsk), but that Lukashenka himself was provoking them. However, her staff’s strategy of appealing to the conscience of the security forces has failed so far.

How did the extraordinary pre-election mobilisation come about?

Belarusian society has undergone major changes in recent years. A new culture of protest has emerged. In 2017, there were nationwide protests against the so-called ‘parasite tax’. The people won and the authorities abandoned plans for a tax on citizens of working age who did not pay social security contributions and were not registered unemployed. In Brest, people protested for several years against the construction of a battery factory. They succeeded in bringing work to a provisional halt. In June 2020, Lukashenka even held a meeting with the Brest activists and promised a new environmental assessment and a local referendum. The ‘Mothers 328’ initiative, an advocacy programme for young people sentenced to long prison terms for possession of drugs under Article 328 of the penal code, has also achieved a two-year reduction of the minimum sentence.

While laws on social engagement and the exercise of fundamental rights remain restrictive, demonstrators, independent journalists and opposition politicians were last year imprisoned in exceptional cases only. Fines tended to be imposed instead. Overall, the state showed itself increasingly open to dialogue: there were more public hearings, drafts of legislation were circulated for discussion, and experts from civil society were involved in the development of state programmes and strategies. This liberalising atmosphere awoke hopes of further reforms and strengthened society’s confidence in its own strength.

When were these hopes dashed?

In March 2020. Lukashenka’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic shocked many Belarusians. He played down the danger of the virus and showed no compassion after the first deaths. This led to a massive loss of trust, even among his followers. Another catalyst was probably the fact that all travel abroad, including neighbouring countries and anywhere in the EU, suddenly became impossible. Many people who had previously kept out of politics now had no way of avoiding it and began working for change in their own country.

These people object to being objects of care and control by a paternalistic state. They want to exercise their legal rights to political participation in reality and without fear. And in view of the obvious economic stagnation, they want new prospects. Today, comparisons tend to be drawn with the EU member states such as Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, rather than Ukraine or Russia. People are all too conscious that the relative wellbeing of the country’s economy and social security system is largely due to subsidies from Russia – and therefore constantly at risk.

Why did Lukashenka adopt this strategy for dealing with the pandemic?

Because of the economic situation and Belarus’s tense relations with Russia, Lukashenka’s main interest was to avoid a lockdown. At the same time, he seemed not to have perceived the novelty and the danger of COVID-19. He dismissed reactions in other countries and in Belarus as ‘psychosis’ and refused to cancel major events or take other precautions. He never appeared in a facemask. Yet Lukashenka could have fought the pandemic in ways that would not have unduly damaged the economy. He could, like Turkey, have imposed a limited curfew at weekends; he could have cancelled church services at Easter. The global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic offered him an opportunity to divert attention from the homegrown causes of his country’s economic problems. But he didn’t take it.

This was the first time that the regime resorted to repressions against opposition candidates in advance of elections. Possibilities for campaigning and monitoring elections were also restricted more heavily than on previous occasions. Why?

In the 2015 elections, Lukashenka was seen by most Belarusians as a guarantor of stability and security. This was the year after Russia annexed Crimea, unleashing war in eastern Ukraine. At that time, he was offering an agenda of moderate reform. Lukashenka had a chance to redefine his role as head of state and initially seemed to be making use of it. However, in the parliamentary elections in November 2019, not a single independent candidate was elected; shortly after that there were staff changes within the presidential administration. That was when the growing influence of the security forces started to become apparent. However, it was still understood principally as a reaction to increasing tensions with Russia.

In early 2020, the state apparatus was counting on Lukashenka being seen as the guarantor of Belarusian state sovereignty and winning an undisputed victory in the elections. The social mobilisation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic clearly caught the regime off-guard. The regime recalled how, in 2010, it had initially refrained from suppressing calls from opposition candidates to demonstrate ‘on the square (Plošča)’ on election day. Subsequent police violence and the arrest of several presidential candidates brought sanctions from the EU and other western states. This time around, the regime clearly decided to arrest key opponents at the outset. The calculation was probably that by preventing escalation, relations with the West would remain unchanged.

That failed…

Yes. In recent months, Lukashenka and his apparatus have proven incapable of developing a positive agenda and gaining support among voters. Instead, they have relied almost exclusively on intimidation and repression. The regime also stoked fears of a relapse into what people remember as the chaos of the mid-1990s and of Russian intervention and loss of national sovereignty. Instead of seeking direct dialogue with his opponents, Lukashenka moved mainly in the circles of his apparatchiks and security forces. That prevented him from capitalising on the real policy successes of recent years among voters hoping for change.

Throughout the campaign, the picture was of a president stuck in the past. Preparations for the elections came more and more to resemble a military mobilisation. The Central Electoral Commission didn’t even try to make the elections appear free and fair, and instead placed even heavier restrictions on independent observers than on previous occasions. Infection control, of all things, served as a pretext for measures preventing independent electoral observation at polling stations. This was after Lukashenka had already claimed victory over the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is striking that three women have placed themselves at the head of the opposition coalition. How did this happen?

That three women led the campaign of the first opposition coalition in a long time is due to various, partly random factors, for which the state has significant responsibility. If the Central Electoral Commission had not refused to register Valery Tsepkala as a candidate alongside Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the coalition may not have come about. A major trigger was also Lukashenka’s frequent statements that the Belarusian Constitution, with its extensive presidential powers, was not designed for a woman, and that a woman could therefore not be elected head of state. This patriarchal attitude is widespread within the Belarusian state apparatus. Accordingly, the regime has generally refrained from harsh repressions against women. This was another reason for the formation of a female coalition.

How did Tsikhanouskaya present herself?

At first glance, she followed the classic template: an ordinary housewife who would rather be cooking for her family, and who was only leading an election campaign out of love for her imprisoned husband. Her promise to hold free and fair elections within six months signalled that she was not seeking personal power and that she saw herself as a transition candidate. This allowed voters from the very different political camps hoping for political change to identify with her. At the same time, particularly her co-campaigners Maryia Kalesnikava and Veronika Tsepkala emphasised that for them it was also about political equality for women. Strengthening the feminist agenda in Belarus could be a major consequence of these presidential elections, regardless of the eventual outcome.

How will things unfold over the coming weeks and months?

Currently, the situation is unpredictable. If the state and security apparatus keeps closed ranks, the protests are sooner or later likely end without success. The question, however, is what price the Belarusian regime will pay for its brutal preservation of the status quo. The economic renewal that is needed is hardly possible in a demoralised and polarised society – especially since the protests have not been confined to Minsk but have swept across the entire country. In terms of foreign policy, the regime’s room for manoeuvre is also shrinking. In the medium term, Lukashenka will probably be forced to accept Moscow’s proposals for integration. It is therefore still not completely impossible that forces within the regime may coalesce to effect a change of course.

However, it should also be noted that the opposition does not share a common strategic outlook for what comes next. Maryia Kalesnikava, the chief-of-staff for the imprisoned Viktar Babaryka, has repeatedly said that her team has the stamina and is working for long-term change. But two of the three female opposition leaders – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Veronika Tsepkala – have left the country to avoid arrest. The intentions of the opposition expressed so far, such as the establishment of a party or the initiation of a referendum on a return to the 1994 constitution, have been very vague and have little prospect of success – not least because the old constitution would be out of date. But given the current dynamics, new initiatives can be expected.

How should the EU respond?

The problem for the EU is that it has virtually no instruments beyond declarations and sanctions. Despite the gradual rapprochement in recent years, financial support for Belarus has been relatively low level. Any reductions here would primarily harm civil society and people in rural areas. Sanctions have also proven ineffective. However, the politically motivated arrests of the last few days have left the EU with little choice but to re-impose sanctions. In any case, it must drastically limit official relations.

The central questions for Belarus are which political actors can work to de-escalate the current situation, how real respect for fundamental rights can be ensured, and how the current polarization can be overcome. Ultimately, the reforms that large parts of the Belarusian population want are only possible through constructive relations between state and society. The EU must therefore pay more attention to the country and its citizens, and not settle for short-term and symbolic engagement.

The conversation was conducted by Volker Weichsel on 11.8.2020. The full-length German original is published by Osteuropa here.

A conceptual toolbox for the present



Cover for: Formative moments of a democrat

New Eastern Europe 4/2020

Setting boundaries

Matilda Amundsen Bergström reclaims temperance as a contemporary virtue. The sixth-century ethical cornerstone – long valued together with prudence, courage and justice, yet dismissed as ‘naïve, if not downright silly’ in postmodern times – can be a means to redefine limits in a seemingly boundless world. ‘At its core, temperance means finding, respecting and defending boundaries – especially one’s own.’

Drawing parallels between the Late Antique Little Ice Age and today’s era of climate change, Amundsen Bergström recognizes the need to address upheaval. She presents temperance as ‘the choice to not use power’, ‘being without that which one desires’ and ‘actively being with others’. In Amundsen Bergström’s view, ‘this ancient concept, which is within a philosophical tradition but outside of today’s political systems … can provide a stepping stone towards a new ethical order – one that our both warmer and colder world requires.’

Communicating incoherence

Being an idiot might be exactly the subversive tool we need in our communication-obsessed world, suggests Miriam Rasch. Gilles Deleuze’s theory of the idiot is ‘a positive example for philosophers and all others who want to think in order to act upon the world’ of heightened surveillance capitalism. Non-communication becomes active interference:

‘If everyone were to quit Facebook and Instagram right now, would stop emailing and messaging … in other words, if all communicative data-flows would come to a halt – then capital would stop flowing too.’ Rasch does not think we should throw away our phones. Rather, she presents inefficiency as a valuable form of deceleration, alongside Byung-Chul Han’s sense of the idiot’s ‘practice of freedom – perhaps one of the few that we have left’.

Time and politics

Audio excerpts permeate Karl Palmås’s study of pivotal late 20th and early 21st-century periods: 1989 chords play under tension; self-referential recordings reflect 2008; and tonal harmony collapses totally by 2020. Palmås’s exploration spans cultural, economic and political crises, all tainted by a suspension of time. ‘In this state of suspension, the effective, radical solution is based on pushing resolution into the future.’

More articles from Glänta in Eurozine; Glänta’s website

This article is part of the 14/2020 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.

Formative moments of a democrat


Cover for: Formative moments of a democrat

New Eastern Europe 4/2020

In New Eastern Europe, Ukrainian political scientist Mykola Riabchuk recalls how his introduction to democracy came from fighting back against a bullying PE teacher: ‘It was our first victory against the system, our first experience of serious collective action. You may even call it an experience of mutual trust and solidarity.’ The lesson was relived watching Larry Peerce’s 1967 noir film Incident ­– a parable about what happens when a society looks on while minorities are persecuted – and cemented after reading a translation of Robert Putnam’s seminal Making Democracy Work (1993).

‘The key idea in Putnam’s book is “social capital”. It describes the level of mutual trust, solidarity and readiness to cooperate for the sake of the common good within a society,’ explains Riabchuk. ‘In some societies, these expectations are almost always fulfilled and we call such polities developed nations. In some other societies, expectations are most likely to remain unfulfilled. We call these places failed states. However, in some societies, like ours in Ukraine, expectations are only met some of the time. And the degree to which expectations are met largely determines the fraction of the real value of our labour, skills and property that we can ultimately receive in the marketplace. The rest of the real value is lost as a kind of tax on corruption, an insurance against uncertainty.’

Cyber-war: Georgian security expert Lasha Pataraia offers insights into Russian cyber-war: ‘State-sponsored cyber-crime involves almost every law enforcement agency and special services, because of a “securitization” scale in the Russian government. It also involves private companies, criminal organizations, NGOs, media, academia, the expert community, activists and individuals who have a key role not only in cyber operations, but in the extensive propaganda campaigns.’

The Georgian border conflict of 2008 was the first cyber-war in history. ‘It became clear that the attacks were about disabling our information resources in order to minimize the ability to fight Russian propaganda during its offensive … Instead of running a network from powerful government servers, they used hundreds of thousands of internet users and their computers by infecting them with the ISP’s and FSB’s help. This way the Kremlin was able to maintain plausible deniability.’

Avantgardes: Kraków-based poet, literary critic and researcher Jakub Kornhauser talks in interview about central and eastern European avantgardes. Early 20th-century movements in the region were aesthetically and politically diverse, but also parochial. More significant in terms of the development of international conceptualism was the post-war avantgarde in CEE, including the Slovenian group OHO, the Czech poet Jiří Kolář, and the Serbian artist Miroljub Todorović.

More articles from New Eastern Europe in EurozineNew Eastern Europe’s website

This article is part of the 14/2020 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get updates on reviews and our latest publishing.


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