n.24 April 2009
It's entirely possible the 20th century didn't end on December 31, 1999 but a decade ealier with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Its collapse put an end to ideologies that the twentieth century had inherited from the nineteenth, and which parties and mass movements depended on for their lifeblood. A large portion of Europe returned to the democratic fold. Western capitalism, in the absence of its longtime Communist nemesis, turned to glablization which seen in retrospect qwas in many ways characterized by greed and lawlessness. Common sense was beaten down. The economic and social consequences are being felt today.
East's dossier examines the watershed year of 1989. Our coverage includes reports by Predrag Matvejevic, Sergio Romano, LUcia Tajoli, Stefano Chiarlone, Piero Sinatti, Fernando Orlandi, Farian Sabahi, Alessandro Midlarz and Danilo Taino, who interviewed Ralph Dharendorf.
Elsewhere, we reccomend Massimiliano Di Pasquale vivid report from Krakow and Alessandro Ursic and Stefano Riela, who focus instead on the promise and problems of Vietnam. Meanwhile, eminent Russian sociologist Lev Gudkov interprets public opinion polls to determine how Russians view their government and leadership.
Finally, our "Venice Forum", which we've held three times, moves from Venice to Rome and becomes "east Forum". The theme is "A New International Government for Sustainable Growth" with the discussion set for June 25 at Spazio Roma Eventi on Via Alibert.
In attempting to grasp the more radical and enduring side of the global economic crisis and to assess its impact it may be helpful to look beyond stock market data, company closures and managerial overhauls to what French philosopher Michel Foucault once labeled "bios" or the way people live.
This tone and texture of live gives a philosopher viewpoint on a concrete process such a decaying economy some necessary context. Foucault's writing on biopolitics - in essence the impact of political power on all aspects of human life - help make sense of some aspects of the credit crunch. For Foucalt, the author of "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison", biopolitics reflected the way power could insinuate itself into all microphysical contact, social and physical. Bodies and minds reflected signs of discipline produced by conditioning that political, economic and social power applied to all human behavior.
Foucault, who died in 1984, developed his "bios" views in an age dominated by large prisons, insane asylums and giant Ford factories, central pylons of 19th century nationalist architecture.
by Diana Santini
Don Virginio Colmegna Milan-based social and psychological relief program hopes to have an impact on cities as diverse as Birmingham, Lyon and Cape Town.