mercoledì 5 dicembre 2012

The Neutralization of Politics

Gianni Vattimo will be keynote speaker for the Lolle Nauta Forum, at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, on December 13th. Co-speaker: Frank Ankersmit

The Neutralization of Politics

Italy’s new government, Europe’s bureaucracy, the rise of the BRICS – according to the Italian philosopher and politician Gianni Vattimo these are just some examples of what he describes as ‘the neutralization of politics’. This neutralization is characterized by the absence of differences between political parties and the reduction of politics to technocratic decision making. The nearly ubiquitous access to information has stimulated this development: mistrust instead of a critical attitude has become the state of mind of citizens, and opposition is almost absent. According to Vattimo, the neutralization of politics has led to a standstill and even to the end of democracy. The way in which the most recent financial crisis was dealt with serves as an example of this standstill: banks have been refinanced, welfare was reduced to lower levels, and social discipline has been intensified.

Vattimo holds the Sciences partly responsible for this crisis – economists in particular have become ‘technicians’ who are assumed to simply ensure the functioning of the global machine without bearing any political responsibility. The Enlightenment, and scientific reason as a tool for human emancipation, has completely turned into an instrument of domination.

In his lecture Vattimo contrasts the neutralization of politics with what he calls ‘hermeneutic communism’. This is a political philosophy that no longer departs from universal moral or epistemological principles, but which is guided by an interpretation of the particular context in which a political decision has to be made. Moreover, it is a philosophy that focuses on conflicts and differences because, from this perspective, political legitimacy can only result from social struggle between historically situated subjects – or perhaps even classes.

Gianni Vattimo

Gianni Vattimo is one of the most influential European philosophers today. He became famous with his contribution to the development of postmodernist thought. Next to politics, most of his philosophical work is devoted to aesthetics, ethics and the philosophy of religion.

Vattimo is an active public figure in Italy, as newspaper columnist, homosexual activist, catholic and as politician. From 1999 to 2004 he was member of the European Parliament for the Democrats of the Left. In 2009, he was re-elected to the European Parliament.

Frank Ankersmit

Frank Ankersmit is Professor of Intellectual History and Historical Theory at the University of Groningen. He has made many contributions to contemporary philosophy of history, historiography and historical and political representation.

When and Where?

Thursday 13 December 2012, 8 - 10 p.m.

Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen


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