Journal Papers

Ground Zero of the Forum: Notes on a Personal Journey

Abstract: When I first attended a social forum – the first European Social Forum in Florence(Italy) in November 2002 – I was just overwhelmed by joy. Although I cannot say that it was the experience of the social forum that (re)politicized me – this came, odd as it sounds, through the experience of theory when I started my PhD in 1998 – the trip toFlorence was my first encounter with the street politics of social movements since the Velvet Revolution in the then Eastern Bloc, which had turned my world upside down when I was sixteen. Now, sixteen years after the Wende – as the collapse of real-existing socialism and the turn towards the capitalist West is called in Germany – we seem to be in the peculiar situation that, although the experience of the Velvet Revolution is relatively recent, the majority of people simply can’t imagine the possibility of a repetition of such an event – the collapse of the dominant ideological system that structures our being. Today, people either seem to think that we live in a post-ideological open society, which is the culmination of all history, or they think that US imperialism produces a kind of totalitarian system that allows very few possibilities of escape. Does this not mirror the ideological situation in the former Eastern Bloc at the end of the 1980s?

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