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Spring 2015

Democracy depends on its ability to form a permeable and, therefore, flexible and adaptable social context which offers the best possible opportunities for all citizens to live and to thrive. Unfortunately, democracy's permeability is deteriorating in both directions and thus calls into question its own legitimacy. Increasingly, social environments seal themselves off from each other, and social and political obstacles are constantly growing. On the other hand, our democracy has almost reached rock bottom. Fraud, malpractice, and incompetence rarely have consequences any longer. This pertains both to the financial industry and to politics. An enormous waste of taxpayers' money for failed attempts at "rescuing" banks and the like are being whitewashed in an increasingly brazen fashion. In all cases, democracy falls by the wayside, because its essential value for each and every one of us becomes more and more difficult to place with regard to the bank managers and their shameless quest for personal gain, and seemingly helpless, dishonest and populist politicians. In light of this, we need our democracy, which is facing many threats, now more than ever. But what can this democracy look like, how do we regenerate it for us to adequately represent and defend it? Nowadays, democracy seems a mere empty phrase to many, disguising the lack of social cohesion by employing a demagoguery which presents the struggle for self-interest as a struggle for the well-being of the disadvantaged.

In the new volume of our series Passagen Gespräche, we counter this tendency towards a meaningless democracy with Jean-Luc Nancy's concept of radical democracy, in which he reinterprets it from within the concept of community and tries to imbue it with meaning again. From the beginning of our Western civilization on, it has always been the artists, philosophers, and scientists who have been working on enlightening and ameliorating social conditions to the best of their abilities. Nancy's thought realizes this attitude for our times in a very meaningful way.

Along with Nancy, we have six more books from France in our spring catalogue – two by Jacques Rancière, two by Jacques Derrida, and two by Alain Badiou. In this context, I would like to recommend a book which explains this strong French philosophy's genesis. In his book Das Abenteuer der französischen Philosophie seit den 1960er Jahren, Alain Badiou describes the roots and the developments of the most important philosophy of the past decades from an actor's and insider's point of view. Badiou's personal acquaintance with all the major authors of this era adds a personal aspect to our knowledge of their works, which leads to an even better understanding of their writings.

In conclusion, I would like once again to thank our authors, our event partners, and our audiences, which have made our series Passagen Gespräche in New York, Budapest, Vienna, and in Berlin a great success. This format is becoming an increasingly important communication channel for our work, our intention, and our project. We will therefore continue the presentation of our French authors in Berlin and Vienna in cooperation with our partners in 2015.

Please consult our 2015 spring catalogue (in German) for more detailed information about all new releases. I hope you will find something to your liking and, as always, I wish you new insights and an engaging reading experience.

Peter Engelmann


Peter Engelmann