GERMAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE SOCIAL SCIENCES / Vol. 81, No. 3 (Fall 2014)
Arien Mack, Editor
This issue marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Heuss Professorship at the New School for Social Research. Named for Theodore Heuss, the first president of West Germany after World War II was permanently established in 1975 to foster a union between German and American intellectuals. This special issue is written entirely by former Heuss professors.
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The Introduction focuses on the foundation of the “University in Exile“ in 1933 which provided a forum for the integration of émigré scholars into American academic life, and led in the 1960s to the establishing of the Theodor Heuss chair at The New School for Social Research. It then discusses some outstanding contributions of the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik which was succeeded by Social Research in 1934. Finally, a short summary on the contributions to this special issue is given.
Beginning with some general remarks on law and evolution the paper queries the Westphalian narrative of modern state formation, centered in the evolutionary concept of normative constraints of morally neutralized processes of evolutionary adaptation (1). In the light of long-time evolutionary change a brief sketch follows concerning the democratic transformations of international (2) and national constitutional law (3). But no jurisgenetic progress without the threat of jurispathetic regression. The internal and external limits to democratic constitutionalism came to the fore since the effective political establishment of a global neoliberal regime since mid of the 1970th (4). Europe is no exception but still in a process constitutional evolution that is open to alternative pathways enabled by the egalitarian normative constraints of global, regional and national constitutional and public law (5).
"Art, compared to all the sciences, is still an open field. No one really needs art, but--and this is the crazy thing--there has been an intense art-like work for as long as there have been people. A mysterious impulse, indeed, to make something that ostensibly no one needs in order to live and survive, and yet it arises from an urgent need."
While anthropology went through a period of disturbing self-reflectivity and profound epistemological doubts, its classical field of study changed dramatically. Instead of small and relatively homogeneous face-to-face societies, today’s anthropologists are studying the social transformations triggered out by the pressure of globalization. Yet the more these societies adapted themselves to the conditions of modernity, the more the significance of the ethnographic data grows collected by anthropologists since the end of the 18th century. For indigenous peoples, they often represent the only written sources on their history, becoming increasingly important in their struggle for land and cultural rights.
The concept of "Zeitgeschichte" (contemporary history) was introduced in postwar Germany as a critical inquiry into the history of the Nazi period. Yet the historians themselves had been contemporaries of the "Third Reich". During the first decades of scholarly research, the question "How could that happen?" almost exclusively related to the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 - and only much later on was redirected to the Second World War and the Holocaust. The article argues that in order to explain this shift one needs to take into account the change of generations - both within German society in general and among contemporary historians.
Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem ends with the repetition, and affirmation, of the court’s judgment on Eichmann. The article argues that this re-performance of the legal act of judgment follows precisely from the self-reflective problematization of legal judgment which Arendt’s book presents as the only way to do justice to the Eichmann case. Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem should thus be read as an exploration of the paradox at the bottom of law.
There is a controversy in Germany and at an international level on whether economics, as represented in the top journals, is moving away from political economy towards abstract reasoning. Defenders of the mainstream argue that, with inevitably increasing specialization, research must combine theoretical and empirical methods to solve problems of applied economics which are politically relevant. Such an approach misses what was meant by political economy since its inception; the problem is to reconstruct the concept so as to understand the changes and the economic crises of society in the process of globalization. What political economy really means is a deep problem in the history of economic thought.
The paper discusses the activities of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as journalists. The focus of attention is on their lead articles written for the “New York Tribune” in the period 1851-1862. Important themes of the articles include the ole of slavery for the development of US capitalism, the latter's characteristic features as compared with British capitalism, which for some time they considered the paragon of capitalist development, and some of the reasons why Marx failed to complete volumes II and III of Capital.
There is renewed scholarly and public interest in the issue of economic inequality on both sides of the Atlantic. This paper first presents some trends and facts on inequality, then reviews debates about high and rising inequality in the US, before turning to blind spots in inequality debates in Europe, with a particular focus on Germany. The paper ends with some speculations about the differences in the nature of the debates and policy action on inequality on both sides of the Atlantic.
Whereas in the area of international relations classical realism has come under attack, in political philosophy various versions of realism have recently been developed. Yet all of these approaches overlook either the reality of social conflicts or the emancipatory function of normative notions such as human rights or the meaning of political autonomy.A realistic and critical theory of transnational justice needs to begin with an analysis of the relations of rule and/or domination, whether within, between, or beyond states. And because reflexive justice requires structures of justification whereby those subject to rule or domination can become the normative authorities co-determining them, a complex account of transnational justice and democracy results.
Even when the idea of “social pathologies” or “diseases” of a whole society is quite common since Rousseau`s Second Discourse and especially prominent within the tradition of critical theory, it is not really clear who precisely proposed to have fallen ill here in the first place. Is it only some sufficient number of singular persons, is it the collective understood as a macro-subject or is it the “society” itself as having been encroached upon by a particular disorganization of its social institutions in their functional efficiency to such an extent that one can confidently speak of a distinctively social “disease”? For all three alternative attributions – i.e., the sporadic individuals with the total amount of their illnesses, the collective with its own particular clinical syndrome, and the society itself as fallen ill – sufficient instances can be found in the corresponding literature. In order to find a way out of these conceptual perplexities lying at the very heart of this way of talking, I am dealing in the following text with the theoretical proposals by Alexander Mitscherlich and Sigmund Freud who both defend a specific concept of “social pathologies” or “diseases” based on psychoanalytical insights. The result of my critical reconstruction will be that only an understanding of the society as an organic entity allows a non-reductive use of the idea of “social pathologies”.
"Critical Theory" was originally an interdisciplinary project of the members of the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt in the twenties and thirties of the previous century, a project inspired by Marx's critique of political economy. In this essay the term is used in a wider sense, including not only the work of later members of the Frankfurt Institute like Habermas and Honneth, but also some related work done by philosophers outside the Frankfurt tradition like Balibar, Hardt/Negri or Zizek. While various forms of critical theory are shown to be responses to varying social and historical constellations in this essay, the essay is also an accumulation of arguments showing why (existing?) capitalism and democracy have become irreconcilable opposites.