Robert Musil: Essays ~ Kapitel 1. Fragen der Zeit Politik in Österreich (1913)

Robert Musil 1880 – 1942

Man denkt bei diesem Begriff zu einseitig an die Schwierigkeit der Nationalitätenfrage. Denn die – obgleich eine Schwierigkeit – ist längst eine Bequemlichkeit geworden; über einen ernsten Anlaß hinaus ein uneingestandenes Ausweichen und Verweilen. Wie bei hohlen Liebenden, die immer neue Trennungen und Widerstände überwinden, weil sie schon ahnen, wie wenig sie am ersten Tag der Hindernislosigkeit noch miteinander anzufangen wissen werden. Wie Leidenschaft überhaupt nur ein Vorwand ist, keine Gefühle zu haben. Wenn die große Abrechnung beendet sein wird, wird es ein Glück sein, daß die schlechten Manieren, die man inzwischen angenommen hat, auch aus nichtigen Anlässen noch den Verwahrlosungsschein des Idealismus zu schaffen wissen werden. Aber dahinter wird die Leere inneren Lebens schwanken, wie die Öde im Magen des Alkoholikers.

Es gibt wenig Länder, die so leidenschaftlich Politik treiben, und keines, wo Politik bei ähnlicher Leidenschaft so gleichgültig bleibt wie in diesem; Leidenschaft als Vorwand. Nach außen ist alles so sehr parlamentarisch, daß mehr Leute totgeschossen werden als anderswo, und es stehen alle Räder alle Augenblicke wegen der nächstbesten Parteidrehung still; hohe Beamte, Generäle, Ratgeber der Krone dürfen beschimpft werden, man kann Vorgesetzten mit einer Drohung vor dem Parlament bange machen, verdient Geld mit Hilfe der Politik, ohrfeigt einander. Aber alles ist halb wie eine Konvention, ein Spiel nach Übereinkommen. Die Furcht, die man erregt, die Macht, die man ausübt, die Ehren, die man auf sich sammelt, bleiben – trotzdem sie in allen wirklichen und gemeinhin als wichtig geltenden Beziehungen völlig echt sind – in der Seele unwahr, spukhaft, geglaubt und respektiert, aber nicht gefühlt. Man nimmt sie soweit ernst, daß man ihretwillen verarmt, doch es scheint, daß man das ganze Leben bis zu solchem Grade nach etwas einrichtet, hier nicht das Letzte zu bedeuten. Es könnte ein großer, wenn auch erst negativer Idealismus darin gesehen werden. Das Tun legt diese Österreicher nie ganz auf sein Niveau fest. Es ist nicht an ihre Religiosität zu glauben, nicht an ihre Untertanenkindlichkeit oder ihre Sorgen; sie warten dahinter; sie haben die passive Phantasie unausgefüllter Räume und gestatten eifersüchtig einem Menschen alles, nur nicht den seelisch so präjudizierenden Anspruch auf den Ernst seiner Arbeit. Wogegen der Deutsche im Verhältnis zu seinen Idealen jenen unerträglich lieben Frauen gleicht, die plitschtreu wie ein nasses Schwimmkleid an ihren Gatten kleben.

Weiterlesen: http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/essays-6938/1

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Health Communication In Southern Africa: Engaging With Social And Cultural Diversity ~ Introduction

Introduction
A focus on Southern Africa as an area where more and better HIV/AIDS communication is needed cannot be better underlined than by recent figures on adults living with HIV (15-49 years): In Sub-Saharan Africa the figure stands at 11%, whereas the global percentage is 3.25% (UNAIDS, 2008). The rise in these figures over recent years can partly be accounted for by the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, which means that statistically people living with HIV have a higher life expectancy.

Still, 67% of the global HIV prevalence in 2007 was accounted for by Sub-Saharan Africa, as was 72% of the global AIDS deaths (UNAIDS, 2008). The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa affects women more than men (60% of people living with HIV were female in Southern Africa in 2007; UNAIDS, 2008), especially regarding HIV prevalence among youth. It is within this context that this book wants to consider the role that health communication may play in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Positive outcomes of health communication
How can health communication benefit the fight against HIV/AIDS? This positive influence may apply at different levels. Communication is an important part of prevention campaigns like in the case of the ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms) motto, which could contribute to a decline in HIV infections. Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa typically affects women more adversely than men, gender relations form an important contextual dimension of health communication. Prevention messages have to be reinforced by the empowerment of women, enabling them to change their vulnerable position in sexual relations and negotiations.

Prevention and treatment go hand in hand and both aspects should be addressed in health communication. Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) is a desirable outcome for several reasons. If people are infected they can get treatment and guidance. The spreading of infections may be controlled by more knowledgeable and responsible behaviour by HIV-infected people. Being more open about VCT might also change the perceptions of people living with HIV. Health communication can take the form of campaigns for better drug regimens and adequate state support. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) need to take antiretroviral medicine to avoid AIDS, and their Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) compliance might be improved by good instruction and motivation. New media technologies have created opportunities to develop support networks for social movements and non-governmental organisations working to ensure better access to anti-retroviral medicines for PLWA.

The best-known example of such a network in Southern Africa is the one built around the group Treatment Action Campaign (Berger, 2006; Wasserman, 2005). The portrayal of PLWA may be changed in a more positive direction. Mass media and government policies need to be analyzed critically to detect and change negative or undesirable social representations of HIV/AIDS, or of individuals or groups associated with the disease. Health communication may serve to counter stereotyping, vilification or marginalisation of PLWA in sections of society who are seen as undeserving of state support, e.g. prisoners, migrants, asylum seekers, or sex workers (Berger, 2006). Read more

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Health Communication In Southern Africa: Engaging With Social And Cultural Diversity – Cell Phones For Health In South Africa

L. Lagerwerf, H. Boer & H.J. Wasserman (Eds.) ~ Health communication in Southern Africa: Engaging with social and cultural diversity. Rozenberg Publishers/UNISA Press, Amsterdam/Pretoria, 2009

Abstract
There is widespread global use of technology in medicine and health communication, leading to terms such as telemedicine, telehealth and e-health. A wide range of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is used both in the provision of services, as well as for messaging and communication campaigns. In South Africa, limited Internet penetration has led to increased experimentation with cell phones as a tool for social change. This paper provides a discussion of three of such projects: The Teen SMS Helpline of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG); SIMPill which assists patients with compliance to their tuberculosis medication; and CellLife’s Cell phones for HIV programme. The projects are described, and the paper reflects on the general possibilities for using cell phones in healthcare, weighing advantages and disadvantages, particularly in the local South African context.

Introduction
The global trend of using new technologies in healthcare and health communication has made its way to Africa. A range of healthcare initiatives makes use of palm devices, the Internet, and other information and communication technologies, giving rise to the terms e-health, tele-health, and telemedicine (see Oh, Rizo, Enkin & Jada, 2005, for a literature review on the topic).

While the growing body of literature on this subject explores both the Internet and cell phones as ‘new’ media in the use of health promotion efforts, it is cell phones that are emerging as most popular, and possibly most effective, in health communication on the continent. Internet penetration in South Africa is increasing steadily, but the numbers of people with access to high-speed Internet connectivity here and elsewhere across Africa are probably still too low to allow the widespread success of Internet based applications, outside of telecentres set up specifically for this purpose. Recent statistics indicate that only one in 700 Africans has access to the Internet, versus one in four Europeans (Chakraborty, 2008).

On the other hand, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa has increased dramatically over the last few years. In 2007 Africa added over 60 million new
mobile subscribers and mobile phones represented 90 percent of all telephone subscribers (African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators, 2008). Indeed, cellphone penetration in Africa has increased rapidly since the privatisation of telephone monopolies in the mid-1990s (LaFraniere, 2005). Between 2000 and 2006, the total number of subscribers to cellphone services increased from 10 million to 110 million, in the 24 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and South Africa had more subscribers to cell phones than fixed lines (Buys, Dasgupta, Thomas & Wheeler, 2008). Similarly, an earlier study revealed that the number of mobile subscribers in 30 Sub-Saharan countries rose from zero in 1994 to more than 82 million in late 2004 and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). Clearly, Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s fastestgrowing wireless market and the rate of growth for the entire continent has been more than 58 per year (Mbarika & Mbarika, 2006). In South Africa, cellphone use is widespread, particular with the introduction of pre-paid services; and there are over 30 million users (Shackleton, 2007). Read more

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Globalization, Revolution, And Democracy

This article* studies the issue of democratization of countries within globalization context, it points to the unreasonably high economic and social costs of a rapid transition to democracy as a result of revolutions or of similar large-scale events for the countries unprepared for it. The authors believe that in a number of cases the authoritarian regimes turn out to be more effective in economic and social terms in comparison with emerging democracies especially of the revolutionary type, which are often incapable to insure social order and may have a swing to authoritarianism. Effective authoritarian regimes can also be a suitable form of a transition to efficient and stable democracy. The article investigates various correlations between revolutionary events and possibilities of establishing democracy in a society on the basis of the historical and contemporary examples as well as the recent events in Egypt. The authors demonstrate that one should take into account a country’s degree of sociopolitical and cultural preparedness for democratic institutions. In case of favorable background, revolutions can proceed smoothly (‘velvet revolutions’) with efficient outcomes. On the contrary, democracy is established with much difficulty, throwbacks, return to totalitarianism, and with outbreaks of violence and military takeovers in the countries with high illiteracy rate and rural population share, with low female status, with widespread religious fundamental ideology, where a substantial part of the population hardly ever hears of democracy while the liberal intellectuals idealize this form, where the opposing parties are not willing to respect the rules of democratic game when defeated at elections.

Keywords: globalization, Near East, Egypt, democracy, revolution, reaction, extremists, counterrevolution, Islamists, authoritarianism, excessive expectations, military takeover, economic efficiency.

Sociopolitical destabilization may be produced by rather different causes. However, sociopolitical transformations may be considered as ones of the most powerful among them. This may look paradoxical, but attempts of transition to democratic forms of government may lead to a very substantial destabilization of a society in transition. The present article analyzes the relationships between revolution, democracy and the level of stability in respective sociopolitical systems.

There is a widespread opinion that globalization contributes to the spread of democracy. Besides, there is a conviction, which is more widespread among the politicians and ideologists than among the scholars that democracy contributes to a faster and/or more adequate economic growth. The following quotation passionately expresses this conviction: ‘For the past three decades, globalization, human rights, and democracy have been marching forward together, haltingly, not always and everywhere in step, but in a way that unmistakably shows they are interconnected. By encouraging globalization in less developed countries, we not only help to raise growth rates and incomes, promote higher standards, and feed, clothe, and house the poor; we also spread political and civil freedoms’ (Griswold 2006).

In this context, many supporters of democracy consider extremely disappointing that sometimes democracy does not work properly and the waves of democratization get weaker. Samuel Huntington (1993) called the period of a fast spread of democracy in the 1970s – early 1990s ‘the third wave of democratization’. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, many researchers noted that the number of democratic regimes ceased to grow and that it would be a dangerous intellectual temptation for the democrats to consider that the world is inevitably moving towards some final natural democratic state (see Diamond 1999, 2004, 2008). In this situation, the trend has strengthened which promotes democracy in all countries with non-democratic or partially democratic regimes. This trend, on the one hand, is based on the global geopolitical goals of the USA and the West (see, e.g., Brzezinski 1998), and on the other hand, relies upon an active support of a broad ideological and informal movement. And this justifies the efforts to support democracy and to encourage democratic opposition for the purpose of increasing chances of victory of democracy in case of the crisis of authoritarian regimes (Diamond 2000). The intensive efforts led to a number of interventions and color revolutions. Read more

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Reshaping Remembrance ~ Critical Essays On Afrikaans Places Of Memory

Albert Grundlingh & Siegfried Huigen (Eds.) – Reshaping Remembrance. Critical Essays on Afrikaans Places of Memory – Rozenberg Publishers 2011 – Savusa Series 3 – ISBN 978 90 3610 230 8 – Editing: Sabine Plantevin.

In any society in the throes of transition, there is a particularly acute need to reflect upon aspects of the past that used to represent firm beacons enlighting the way ahead. This inevitably involves a broader re-appraisal of the processes which contributed to the formation of a specific historical memory in the first place.
Reshaping Remembrance includes a number of critical essays on dimensions of collective Afrikaans historical memory in South Africa. In the light of radical changes in the country, scholars from various disciplines reflect on the dynamics of historical consciousness symbolically present in various areas: the ‘volksmoeder’ image, historical events and monuments, language and music, rugby and architecture.
This work hopes to resound with a well-established intellectual tradition in Europe dealing with ‘places of memory’ or ‘lieux de mémoire’.

Contents
1. Siegfried Huigen & Albert Grundlingh – Koos Kombuis and Collective Memory
2. Elsabé Brink – The ‘Volksmoeder’ – A Figurine as Figurehead
3. Gerrit Olivier – The Location
4. Hein Willemse – A Coloured Expert’s Coloured
5. Kees van der Waal – Bantu: From Abantu to Ubuntu
6. Ena Jansen – Thandi, Katrina, Meisie, Maria, ou-Johanna, Christina, ou-Lina,Jane and Cecilia
7. Albert Grundlingh – Rugby
8. Marlene van Niekerk – The Eating Afrikaner: Notes for a Concise Typology
9. Lizette Grobler – The Windpump
10. Hans Fransen – Glorious Gables
11. Lou-Marié Kruger – Memories of Heroines: Bitter Cups and Sourdough
12. Lize van Robbroeck – The Voortrekker in Search of New Horizons
13. Christine Antonissen – English
14. Siegfried Huigen – Language Monuments
15. Rufus Gouws – The Woordeboek van die Afrikaanse Taal
16. Luc Renders – And the Greatest is … N.P.van Wyk Louw
17. Albert Grundlingh – Why have a Ghost as a Leader? The ‘De la Rey’ Phenomenon and the Re-Invention of Memories, 2006-2007
18. Stephanus Muller – Boeremusiek
19. Stephanus Muller – Die Stem
20. Annie Klopper – ‘In ferocious anger I bit the hand that controls’: The Rise of Afrikaans Punk Rock Music

Read more

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Reshaping Remembrance ~ Koos Kombuis And Collective Memory: An Introduction

As the year 2006 gave way to 2007, a song and an accompanying music video about the Boer general Koos de la Rey caused quite a stir in South Africa. When this song was played in bars and at barbecues, young white Afrikaners would stand with their fists clenched against their chests and sing along: ’De la Rey, De la Rey…’ And tears would flow. According to news reports, the ‘De la Rey thing’ had made many of them ‘proud’  of their roots. Worried ANC politicians expressed concern because they saw this as the start of an ethnic revival that could disrupt South Africa. The phenomenon even made it to the world press.

One of the more balanced reactions to the De la Rey song is an article by the Afrikaans beat poet Koos Kombuis on Litnet, ‘Bok van Blerk en die bagasie van veertig jaar’ (Bok van Blerk and the baggage of forty years).[i] In this article Kombuis confesses his conflicting reactions to the song. Rationally, he rejects the song and the Boer War elements in the music video. He sees it as ‘a call to war, a sort of musical closing of the ranks’. Some months before Kombuis had distanced himself publicly from his Afrikaner identity in a Sunday newspaper, from the ‘baggage that has been forced on me by people who have now been trying to prescribe for forty years who and what an Afrikaner is. What an Afrikaner is supposed to believe in. Whom he should vote for, which shit clothes he should wear and how he should spend his public holidays’.[ii] This notwithstanding, Kombuis is unable to offer any resistance to the emotional appeal of the song: ‘Why, if I experienced my resignation from Afrikanerdom as such a gloriously liberating step, do I feel so inexplicably profoundly touched by the De la Rey song? It is embarrassing’.

In reply to Kombuis’s question ‘why’, it can be surmised that both the song and the video, with their images of the leadership, a concentration camp and Boer fighters, draw on the collective memory of white Afrikaners, on something they learned within the family and, especially for the older ones, at school and in church. Kombuis’s reaction already points in this direction when he says that when he hears the song, he longs to be back at Sunday school and ‘feels like rejoining the army on the spot and shooting the hell out of the Kakies and other K stuff’.[iii]

The role of collective memories was first investigated seriously by the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs in his ground-breaking works Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire (The social frameworks of memory) and La mémoire collective (The collective memory). These publications from 1925 and 1950 were rediscovered in recent years by historians doing research on memory. According to Halbwachs, every one of us obviously has his own memories, but at the same time we also share group memories. Read more

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