24 May

Reproductive Autonomy

The dimensions, scope and limits of reproductive autonomy remain largely uncharted. Nevertheless, besides the traditional rights of freedom from state intervention in human reproduction and of access to contraception and pregnancy termination, the debate on international and constitutional law in this area suggests that there is also a right to fulfil the wish for a …
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22 May

Is Western Democracy Slipping Away?

In 1989, we were all very optimistic about the expansion of democracy; but now we have the opposite fear: is it contracting? I want to look at democracy in its long-established Western heartland; what is threatening it? Charles Taylor is Professor em. of Philosophy at McGill University, Montreal, and a Permanent Fellow at the IWM, Vienna. …
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18 May

Europe and Austria: The Shape of the Future?

Europe is changing. Looking outwards, it has to operate increasingly as a global player; looking inwards, it needs to counter the centrifugal tendencies of some of its member states by strengthening regional cooperations. For a small country like Austria, the latter are crucial, but many neighbouring countries’ internal developments are putting a strain on their …
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08 May

Heine’s Pantheism

Heinrich Heine’s pantheism brought together identification with sensual antiquity, irreverence toward institutional religion, an original outlook on German philosophy, and a radically modern literary sensibility. In the wake of the “pantheism controversy” of 1785-9, like several of his predecessors, Heine identified Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy with pantheism in the sense of God as nature, the “absolute” …
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26 Apr

Sphere of Influence III

Populist revolt within countries has its complement in a populist revolt against the liberal, rules-based international order, which is driven by three revisionist powers – China, Russia, Iran – that have rich histories as civilizations, empires that once extended well beyond their current size, a powerful sense of historic entitlement and of historic grievance.  Today …
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24 Apr

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning—the possibility of “fixing” the air’s temperature at will—is one of the oldest dreams of man­kind. It means creating a world without heat or cold, rain or snow, without suffocating humidity or dusty winds. Climate control allows for a life with­out weather, without meteorological contingencies and surprises, extreme weather events, seasonal changes, or locally …
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19 Apr

Sphere of Influence II

Do we really know the answer?  Two opposing political projects have framed that question.  One equates fascism and communism as totalitarianism; the other proffers a heroic portrayal of communism as anti-fascism.  The first delegitimates the left, the second legitimates it.  But there is a different story, one rooted in a history that has always been …
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05 Apr

Sphere of Influence I

A History of the Present The liberal, rules-based international order did not take shape predominantly as a consequence of highmindedness, but as a sphere of influence.  That, moreover, was to a great extent inspired, and sustained, by a comprehensive cold war with the Soviet Union (or Second World, as it was once called).  The sphere …
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29 Mar

Lessons of the Past

Session 1: 14:30-15:30 “Only Kids in Cots? Massification and the Everyday Workings of Populations” Leyla Safta-Zecheria (IWM Visiting Fellow; CEU, Budapest) Discussant: Ekaterina Borozdina (IWM Visiting Fellow; National Research Tomsk State University) “Made in Germany: From Boycott to Acceptance” Noa Swisa (IWM Visiting Fellow; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) Discussant: János Mátyás Kovác (IWM Permanent …
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27 Mar

Migration, Asylum and Human Rights

Walls, razor wire and fences are going up all over Europe—and North America too—as democracies face the challenge of mass migration. How do we reconcile refugee’s rights of asylum with sovereign rights of border control and citizens’ rights to security?  The language of rights is now on a collision course with the language of democracy …
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