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Conventional wisdom has it that violence is as prevalent today as it has ever been. Yet a vast body of evidence about the past shows that the chances of an inhabitant of this planet dying violently have never been lower, writes Dan O'Brien, reviewing two new books on the history of violence.

The British Conservative Party's alternative to "state-sponsored multiculturalism" encourages community activities promoting "mainstream British values". Ali Rattansi see the initiative as the latest in a series of ill-founded attempts accross Europe to blame multiculturalist policies for social fracture.

Venice versus Lampedusa: travelling around Italy, Slavenka Drakulic observes one kind of Europe being replaced by another. Instead of attempting to conserve the cultural past, we should accept that migration will adapt much of what we consider "European" to its own image.

Kleist's play "Die Herrmannsschlacht" has generally been read as a national call to arms against the Napoleonic forces. Jan Süselbeck looks instead at the role of women in this "Germanic Jihad", re-reading Kleist's drama in the light of analyses of the "asymmetric wars" of recent decades.

Europe's leaders need to take a hard look across the Atlantic before they start dismantling the Union, writes George Blecher. Emulating the US would risk forfeiting all the things that make Europe the best of all worlds.

Unless countries reduce income disparities the next financial collapse is inevitable, argues economist Michael Kumhof. Perhaps a surprising conclusion from a senior researcher at the IMF. In interview he argues that equality is the best recipe against crisis.

"Osteuropa" asks Alexy Navalny how he intends to restore Russia's greatness; "Blätter" warns that Fukushima has only just begun; "Mute" lends protest political articulacy; "Dilema veche" welcomes Romanian dissent, as far as it goes; "Dziejaslou" publishes Uladzimier Niaklajeu's prison poetry; "La Revue nouvelle" untangles Belgium's university reforms; "Vikerkaar" reads Agamben on friendship; and "Merkur" says there's no alternative to filtering.

Pastel-shaded hillside villas alongside Socialist prefab buildings, the busts of Soviet poets and women clad in black... Exploring Tblisi, Stephan Wakcwitz is reminded of the Italy of Berlinguer, Fellini and cheap holidays.

With demands over the wage and welfare in austerity Greece deemed illegitimate because unaffordable, what shape can struggle take? The all-out attack on living standards produces a de facto opposition that can't be cohered by ideologies of class.

Criticized from the Right for his "politics of kitsch" and from the Left for his closeness to the US, Vaclav Havel was a figure that divided opinion. Nevertheless, right up to his death, Havel continued to pursue a consistent ideal, writes Stefan Auer.

Angelina Jolie's new film about a love affair between a Serb and Muslim, set during the Bosnian war, taps into a familiar dramatic trope but fails to explore the subversive potential contained in the victim-perpetrator relationship, argues Srecko Horvat.

Political repression of pro-democratic journalists throughout the Middle East; serial murder of reporters caught up in Latin America's drug wars; constitutional attacks on the media in Europe: free speech faces adversaries worldwide, warns the director of the International Press Institute. [Greek version added]

Gleb Pavlovsky, erstwhile political advisor to Vladimir Putin, whose election campaigns he masterminded in 2000 and 2004, talks to "Transit" about the workings of power in the Soviet Union and in post-Soviet Russia. [German version added]

What are the factors that could end Russia's democratic inertia? While pressure from below is likely to provoke consolidation of the elites, writes Samuel A. Greene, long-term economic decline might encourage greater European integration and reform of the country's institutions. [German version added]

Social segregation, cultural appropriation: the six-hundred-year history of the European Roma, as recorded in literature and art, represents the underside of the European subject's self-invention as agent of civilizing progress in the world, writes Klaus-Michael Bogdal.

Plans to modernize Russia's economy are resisted by bureaucracies benefiting from the country's role as natural resource appendage of the developed world. That dependency on energy exports hinders political and economic progress is certain: but is high-tech the solution?

Profound lack of political accountability towards Roma constituencies plays into the hands of populist Roma politicians. Real inclusion will happen only when majorities stop expecting Roma leaders to solve what is a majority problem: European anti-Gypsyism.

The existential themes of "The Stranger" hide Camus' critique of French rule in Algeria. Yet Camus never entirely renounced the civilizing premise of colonialism. The reason lies in his relation to his mother, writes Michael Azar on the fiftieth anniversary of Camus' death. [French version added]

"Intellectum" seeks culprits for the Greek disaster; "Transit", "Esprit" and "Ny Tid" follow presidential campaign trails in Russia, France and Finland; "New Humanist" says culture, not genes, is what got humans by; "Kulturos barai" raises the tone of the Lithuanian-Jewish debate; "Mittelweg 36" reads Kleist as prototypical propagandist of asymmetric war; and "Ord&Bild" portrays the artist as researcher.

The narrowly national agendas of the French presidential candidates, combined with a fixation on individuals over issues, damages the democratic process and weakens French interests internationally, argues Daniel Cohn-Bendit.

Antallet timer kunst og håndverk er redusert fra 20 prosent på 70-tallet til 12,5 i 2022. Den kunstfaglige kompetansen synker hos norske lærere. Barn med fag som tegning, musikk og dans som en del av sin skolehverdag, utvikler kognitive funksjoner raskere enn barn som har ordinær undervisning på skolen. Kunst og kultur er styrkedråpen for demokrati og kritisk tenkning. Fremtiden etterspør kreativitet som kompetanse.

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