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Eric J. Hobsbawm – Nations and Nationalism Since 1780

Eric Hobsbawm’s brilliant enquiry into the question of nationalism won further acclaim for his ‘colossal stature … his incontrovertible excellence as an historian, and his authoritative and highly readable prose’. Recent events in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics have since reinforced the central importance of nationalism in the history of political evolution and upheaval.

This edition has been updated in the light of those events, with a final chapter addressing the impact of the dramatic changes that have taken place. It also includes additional maps to illustrate nationalities, languages and political divisions across Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Jean Amery – At the Mind’s Limits

Jean Améry (1912-1978) – born as Hanns Chaim Mayer – was an Austrian autobiographical and philosophical essayist whose work was often informed by his experiences during World War II and the Holocaust. He participated in the organized resistance against the Nazi occupation of Belgium, which resulted in his detainment and torture by the German Gestapo, and several years of imprisonment in concentration camps (Auschwitz and Buchenwald). Ηε was finally liberated at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war he settled in Belgium.

At the Minds Limits is one of his most notable work work. It provokes the reader to empathize while simultaneously making him question or even feel guilty for such empathy. Amery describes in this book his experiences in the death camp, using terminology taken from the phenomenology school – Husserl and Heidegger – in order to show its inadequacy to refer to that experience as well as in order to make fun – and harshly criticize – the intellectuals’ inability to approach the human evilness and fathom phenomena such as the murderous Nazi regime

Jacques Ellul – Propaganda: the formation of men’s attitudes

French Historian Jacques Ellul Talking

Jacques Ellul – French philosopher, law professor and sociologist – in this book discusses the issue of propaganda in its fullest and widest sense, as a phenomenon integrated in the institutions of mass – and individualized – societies, such as the state, the media, the market, political parties, churches… Propaganda, for Ellul, aims to change the people’s perceptions depriving communication and consultation and reducing every individual into a meaningless instrument.

«A far more frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell. With the logic which is the great instrument of French thought, [Ellul] explores and attempts to prove the thesis that propaganda, whether it ends are demonstrably good or bad, is not only destructive to democracy, it is perhaps the most serious threat to humanity operating in the modern world.» (Robert R.Kirsch, The Los Angeles Times). «The these of Propaganda is quiet simply… that when our new technology encompasses any culture or society, the result is propaganda… Ellul has made many splendid contributions in this book.» (Marshall McLuhan, Book Week).

Cornelius Castoriadis – A society adrift

Cornelius Castoriadis was a protean thinker, economist, psychoanalyst and philosopher, notable for developing the project of collective and individual autonomy, as the only project that enhances human freedom and self-creation through genuine political action, beyond trivial ideologies (liberalism, socialism, conservatism etc).

Through his writings of the period 1974-1997 summed in this book, Castoriadis encourages us to rethink that we, as individual and social beings, are solely responsible for the history we create through praxis and contemplation, the only ones that can produce meaningful significations.

For more than thirty years, Castoriadis was preoccupied with the existence of direct democracy (as almost tautological with the project of autonomy), being inspired from ancient Greece. He has been critical on postmodernism, according which the western world appears entirely subdued to the imaginary of consumerism and passiveness (retreat to conformism) as a substitute for the absence of meaning, that is absence of values and norms that guide the social prattein.

Hannah Arendt «Zur Person» Full Interview

In this interview with the German journalist Günter Gaus (October the 28th, 1964) Hannah Arendt addresses a wide range of topics concerning philosophy, gender and politics. Subjects that are of particular importance (for Arendt) are also discussed, drawing on ideas expressed in her earlier works, such as The Origins of Totalitarianism (perhaps the most notable of Arendt’s work, focused on Judaism in Europe, imperialism and the two major totalitarian movements of the twentieth century; Nazism and Stalinism), her controversial Eichmann In Jerusalem and The Human Condition (one of the most important works for the understanding of the Greek polis and democracy). She also elaborates on anti-Semitism and the Auschwitz, whilst outlining the relationship between Germans and Jews, Judaism in Europe before and after the war, and finally Zionism and the state Israel.

Hannah Arendt was born on 14 October 1906 in Hanover. She grew up in Königsberg. Studied philosophy, theology and Greek. Emigrated to France in 1933 and a few years later (1941) moved permanently to the U.S., where she begun working as a freelance journalist, then an editor, and finally a managing director of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction. She also taught political theory at several universities: she initially became Professor at the University of Chicago and later on (1967) University Professor the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research in New York.

Arendt’s political thought provides a clear and original perspective regarding the philosophical roots of occidental political traditions with deep understanding of the Greek and Roman traditions, which have been largely abandoned. Her intellectual work provides an alternative angle on politics and democracy (as a deliberate action, strictly connected with public happiness), by reviving what has been lost through centuries.