< SWITCH ME >
Our editor Sam Volpe points you in the direction of a few articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about essays that will make you swoon, queerness and why we write and ought to read.
Sam, Project Manager and Diaphragm editor
I am bored of reading why 2016 has been the worst year. It has been difficult. It has been occasionally traumatic for those of us of a particular political persuasion. It has seen a number of wonderful celebrities and public figures die. Frankly, it has been a little bit shit, but you knew that by now.
Therefore, in this, your festive edition of Good Reads, I have decided to make it my mission to pass on some writing that will, at the very least, distract you over the holidays.
Sit in a comfortable armchair and put your feet up. Imagine you're in a secluded library with a roaring fire. The world is not doomed, and here, in hyperlink form, are a few reasons why.
Our editor Fernando Burgés points you in the direction of a few essays and articles guaranteed to make you ponder. Read about former Prime Minister of Sweden Olof Palme, democratic confederalism, the Kurdish question and what we can expect from the economic developments in the coming years.
Fernando, Brain and Heart editor
Between Olof Palme and Murray Bookchin, Democratic Confederalism is the Bysectrix
I recently spent a few days in Stockholm, where I finally had the chance to follow the steps of one of my greatest political heroes, Olof Palme, the former Prime Minister of Sweden, assassinated in 1986. His life, as much as his death, is shrouded in a smoke of mystery and romanticism, worth of a book. Indeed, several have been written, and yet I cannot affirm which is the best, I can certainly recommend the brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Blood on the Snow, by the historian Jan Bondeson.
For those not very acquainted with this man, I highly recommend a documentary A Life in Politics as an introduction. Besides the most famous episodes of his career, it is particularly interesting the policies implemented by him years before taking over as Prime Minister of Sweden. When Palme was the Education Minister, he carried out reforms that revolutionized the country deeply: he replaced student grants for a minority with a student loans system for a larger number of people; expanded further education facilities for adults; integrated preschool into the whole education system; expanded day-care centres and introduced classes on sex and procreation in a straightforward and comprehensive way. Above all, his biographers say, in the kindergartens, Palme revolutionized the prevailing mindset, promoting collectivist values.
In the first Good Reads of 2016, former editor Frances Jackson shares a few articles that have got her thinking about Europe over the last few days. Read about contrasting efforts to integrate asylum seekers in Germany and Finland, the publication of a new annotated edition of Mein Kampf, and why the AZERTY keyboard could soon become a thing of the past.
Frances, former Diaphragm / Baby editor
IN search of a common ground
I suppose it’s inevitable that, in the face such a torrent of depressing news stories and seemingly insurmountable hurdles as is the case with the ongoing refugee crisis, we are drawn to examples of journalism that give us hope for the future. Certainly, I think that is what made Herbi Dreiner’s recent guest post for the Guardian stand out for me. He is part of a team at the University of Bonn that has started putting on physics shows with Arabic explanations to help engage young asylum seekers who are still finding their feet in Germany. I love the simplicity of the idea, its optimism and the way it encourages us to find a shared understanding, rather seeking to emphasise differences and deficiencies.
It's that time for another of E&M's editors to suggest their favourite reads: Chris Ruff reflects on what the female involvement in the Islamic State could represent and how far did social media impact the british elections.
Chris, Heart / Legs editor
The women of IS
A powerful article that caught my eye this week is the latest in the New York Times' "State of Terror" series, focusing on the story of three young girls from London who flew to Syria to join the Islamic State in February this year.
The long read has numerous strands to it, including the identity dilemmas of second generation Muslim immigrants in Britain and other Western countries, and the tactics used by IS to lure young women from their safe homes in the West to their violent and dangerous "Caliphate" in the Syrian desert.
But what struck me most was the links to female empowerment and the "twisted form of feminism" that the IS female brigades represent. Of the 4000 foreign fighters who have joined the movement, 550 are estimated to be women and girls. Yet what is clear is that the phenomenon is misunderstood and authorities still don’t know how they should deal with it. One cannot help but notice that the fundamentalist Islamic critique – young Western girls being sexualised from a young age – has some truth to it. But their solution – the complete covering of the face and head and a life of purity and devotion to one’s husband, not to mention actively supporting a murderous regime – is an anathema to our liberal Western values
Another week, another selection of the best European reads, brought to you by two of E&M's editors. Frances and Bettina share a few gems they've come across online, ranging from an article about British POWs in Germany during the First World War to attempts to set the most recent outbreak of the Gaza-Israel conflict in its cultural and historical context, highlighting the role of regional and international stakeholders and Europe's hypocrisy in the affair.
Frances, Sixth Sense editor
At home in enemy territory
Ever since visiting the exquisite Italian Chapel in Orkney, which was built by captured Italian soldiers during the Second World War, I have been intrigued by the fates of prisoners of war – both military and civilian. So it was with some interest that I stumbled upon Stephen Evans' recent article on the BBC website about the 5000 British citizens interned at Ruhleben on the edge of Berlin between 1914 and 1918.
These men were not soldiers, but civilians who happened to be in Germany when war broke out across Europe: everyday folk simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite many privations, they were determined to make the best of their lot and set about establishing not just order, including class and racial hierarchies, but also a degree of comfort. As Evans engagingly explains, they grew flowers in biscuit tins, organised rugby and cricket matches, put on plays and, in fact, ended up far better off than the people living in the German capital at the time. Even the name of the detention camp is somehow appropriate: roughly translated, it means "the quiet life".
Good Reads is returning on 6th sense! This week Lucy Duggan and Velislav Ivanov tell you about their most favorite articles. Read about a "stateless Palestinian with a Danish Passport", think differently about Britain, women and the catholic church!
This week two E&M editors share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.
Velislav, Diaphragm editor
The EU deserved the Nobel Peace Prize...
Recently, the EU as an entity, and respectively each of its some 500 million citizens, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. According to Tim Judah, who has been covering the Balkans for the past two decades, this was well deserved - the EU as a laureate was the "right choice at the right time." While admitting that it is facing considerable difficulties at present, he emphasises its significant security achievements – not only is a war between its Member States now unthinkable, but it has been central to the slow reconciliation between ex-Yugoslav Balkan countries. Citing the foreign ministers of Croatia, Macedonia, and Georgia - all countries that still look up to the EU - he makes a well argued case...
Or perhaps not?
The Economist on the other hand, is more suspicious about the achievements of the EU. The Charlemagne column stresses the current economic turmoil in the eurozone, subtly mocking the committee's choice - "Note that it does NOT win the Nobel Economics Prize."