Explaining the Panama Papers; or, Why does a dog lick himself?

The only truly surprising thing about the Panama Papers leak is that there is no surprise in them: Didn’t we learn exactly what we expected to learn from them? Yet, it’s one thing to know about offshore bank accounts in general, and another to see concrete proof. It’s like knowing that one’s partner is fooling around on you—one can accept the abstract knowledge of it, but pain arises when one learns the steamy details. And[ …]

The return of public vulgarity

A couple months ago, Donald Trump was unflatteringly compared to a man who noisily defecates in the corner of a room in which a respectful drinking party is going on. Are other Republican candidates for the U.S. presidency substantially any better? We probably all remember the scene from Luis Buñuel’s The Phantom of Liberty in which relations between eating and excreting are inverted: People sit at their toilets around the table, pleasantly talking, and when they want to[ …]

Stranger Danger: To Resolve the Migrant Crisis We Must Recognize the Stranger Within Ourselves

The big news of the last week was the deal between Turkey and European Union on how to contain and regulate the flow of refugees. It brought a sigh of relief: The crisis is over. Europe succeeded in stemming the Muslim invasion without betraying humanitarian compassion. But did it? To see clearly what is wrong with this deal, let us reach back to one of our great classics. In Canto VI of Inferno (lines 77-89), Dante[ …]

A crisis in manufacturing consent

The reactions of both party establishments, Republican and Democrat, to Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sanders’s unexpected success in the U.S. primaries is basically the same: Their success demonstrates the crisis of our democracy; it is an abnormality that we should somehow control and contain. This reaction tells us a lot about how our democracy effectively functions: It is tolerated if properly controlled by political establishment, or, as Noam Chomsky noted years ago, “it is only when[ …]

What our fear of refugees says about Europe

Jacques Lacan claimed that, even if a jealous husband’s claim about his wife – that she sleeps around with other men – is true, his jealousy is still pathological. Why? The true question is “not is his jealousy well-grounded?”, but “why does he need jealousy to maintain his self-identity?”. Along the same lines, one could say that even if most of the Nazi claims about the Jews were true – they exploit Germans; they seduce German[ …]

The spectre of Putogan

The well-coordinated official Turkish campaign against me deserves a short conclusive comment. Some on the Turkish side twisted the New Statesman’s apology for the reference to a fake interview into an apology for (i.e., the revocation of) all the main claims of my text. However, my text published in the NS was not “based” on the fake Andalou interview, it was written and published elsewhere (in Germany) before, without the reference to that fake interview,[ …]

The Cologne attacks were an obscene version of carnival

Who are the “hateful eight” in Quentin Tarantino’s film of the same name? The ENTIRE group of participants – white racists and the black Union soldier, men and women, law officers and criminals – they are all equally mean, brutal and revengeful. The most embarrassing moment in the film occurs when the black officer (played by the superb Samuel L. Jackson) narrates in detail and with obvious pleasure to an old Confederate general how he[ …]

Is something rotten in the state of Turkey?

My short comment on the “war on terror” published online by New Statesman has triggered a series of critical reactions which definitely looks like a well-coordinated campaign, so it deserves a short reply. With regard to the statements quoted in my text and falsely attributed to Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkish intelligence, things are simple and clear. After friends informed me about these statements, I searched for them on the web and found a couple of[ …]

The Need to Traverse the Fantasy

Adam Kotsko, a professor of humanities at Shimer College in Chicago, in an email to me, provided the best characterization of the reactions to my latest text on the refugees and Paris attacks: I notice that the responses always seem to be a referendum on you, almost a Rorschach test for what people think of you. If they think you’re a terrible quasi-fascist, pro-Western ideologue, they find stuff to support that. If they assume you’re[ …]

We need to talk about Turkey

There is something weird about the solemn declarations that we are at war against the Islamic State – all the world’s superpowers against a religious gang controlling a small patch of mostly desert land… This doesn’t mean that we should not focus on destroying Isis, unconditionally, with no “but…”. The only “but” is that we should REALLY focus on destroying it, and for this much more is needed than the pathetic declarations and appeals to[ …]