February 2, 2011
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Today a squat is being cleared in my neighborhood, Liebigstrasse 14. It’s a house project that’s existed for 20 years and were the occupants, through negotiations with the Berlin senate, got legal tenancy agreements in the early 90s. But then, in the late 90s, big money came in and wanted to buy the house from the WBF (Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Friedrichshain ≈ Friedrichshain Housing Association), who was the current owner. And as we all know, money talks and the house was sold. The only problem was that the people who were actually living there wasn’t he target group the new owner was looking for. He was looking to make a profit, and with his current tenants that was not very likely to happen. So their leases were cancelled. They however, had no intention of moving anywhere. As far as they were concerned it was still their house. A house they had lived in for 20 years and renovated themselves. After going through the usual rounds in the legal system the eviction was confirmed and the current tenants where to be kicked out. By force if necessary. And of course force was necessary. Read more of this post
January 21, 2011
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There’s an episode of Fawlty Towers where this phrase, “don’t mention the war”, gets repeated several times. A group of Germans are staying at the hotel and therefore Basil Fawlty, the hotel owner, who at the time is suffering from a head injury, instructs his staff to, no matter what happens, not mention World War II. I have been thinking about that phrase lately. “Don’t mention the war.” I actually think we should. We should mention the war, World War II. We should mention it a lot. Because we seem to be forgetting it. We seem to be forgetting that all of that happened right here on European soil, that this is where it started, that it was people just like us who were involved, who started it. It happened right here and it wasn’t that long ago, in a time not that different from now. We seem to be forgetting all the atrocities that took place. All the unfathomable acts of human cruelty that were conducted by regular people right here, people just like you and me.
World War II has become a symbol of evil, something we swore we would never repeat. It was a wake up call that lead us to form the United Nations and the European Union. We wanted to manifest our commitment to make sure that something like this could never happen again on European soil. Whether we have been able to completely keep that promise or not is a debatable issue, but at least we have never had a war on that scale since. So we must have learned something. But the question is what. Read more of this post
December 29, 2010
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There are some things that I will just never be able to understand. One of these is homophobia. I really and honestly do not understand it. And I am not talking about the various cultural and psychological reasons that are generally used to explain this phenomena, or abomination if we want to be a bit more precise, I get those. I understand what they are trying to get at when religion is brought into the picture and I understand what the whole threat to established gender identities theory is about. What I don’t understand is why anyone even cares in the first place. Why does it matter? How can it be that important what gender people are attracted to? Why on earth does anyone bother to care about that? Why is that particular preference given such a determining value?
I was reading a blog post by a mother whose son dressed up in a woman’s outfit for halloween and how that caused people to express a concern that he might grow up to be gay. Say what?! Apart from the fact that I really can’t see any issue what so ever with someone being gay, why would dressing up in women’s clothing make someone gay? How the hell would that causality work? It’s just beyond stupid. You don’t become gay, you are gay. Just like you are straight. Or bisexual. And gender identity has very little to do with that. A gay man is no less male than a straight man, just like a lesbian is no less female than a straight woman. Your gender or sexuality is not tied to your level of masculinity or femininity. But this line of reasoning does put focus on the problem of gender identity itself. Why is it so important that a boy sticks to the attributes assigned to his male gender? Why does him dressing up as a girl become such an issue? And why is the immediate fear that he’ll grow up to be gay? Why is the transcending of the gender roles perceived such a big threat even when it’s a 5-year-old boy doing it? Read more of this post
September 20, 2010
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The truth. It’s a problematic concept but we like to treat it as if it wasn’t. We as a society seem to have this prevailing idea about the one ultimate truth that can be revealed. Almost like a law of nature. The one truth. Like a holy grail, a sacred quest. The real goal of all efforts, be it in science, in law or everyday life, is to find that one single truth. The one answer to everything. The truth. We like to think that we cherish truth in our culture. That once we see the truth we will immediately and almost automatically be able to identify it as such and thus fully embrace it. Like an inherit mechanism in our culture. We like to think we have a very profound love for truth. Do we really? Do we even know what truth is, what we really mean when we talk about truth? I am not so sure. Read more of this post